Lisa Leslie was the first woman in WNBA history to dunk in a game, but she’s so much more than that dunk. She’s someone who truly changed the game — a true Hall of Famer.
To the outside world, Lisa Leslie might be best known for being the first female to dunk. But to the world of women’s basketball, she means much, much more.
Leslie became the first to dunk in the WNBA during a regulation game in 2002, paving the way for fellow dunkers Candace Parker and Brittney Griner.
Those aren’t the only players she has paved the way for.
Leslie became one of the first three players to sign a contract with the WNBA alongside Rebecca Lobo and Sheryl Swoopes. She played for the Los Angeles Sparks from 1997-2009.
It’s because of players like Leslie, Lobo and Swoopes we even have a successful professional women’s basketball league today. That’s a lot more than just one dunk, isn’t it?
On Friday, Leslie’s name, along with her accomplishments, will be inked into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Leslie, a WNBA ambassador, is a two-time WNBA champion (2001, 2002) and eight-time All-Star. She won three regular-season MVP awards (2001, 2004, 2006) and the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2004 and 2008.
Finishing with 6,263 total career points, Leslie became the first player in league history to reach the 6,000-point mark.
As if dominating the league wasn’t enough, Leslie added four Olympic Gold Medals to her resume with Team USA in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. In June, she was also inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Though Leslie has retired from the game, she continues to make history by becoming an investor to the Sparks in 2011, taking on another first—the first former player to invest in the WNBA.
Leslie has done more than find her way to the record books. She has shattered glass ceilings set for any female interested in playing sports, and helped create a platform for them to do so professionally.
Leslie’s induction comes at a perfect time, celebrating a pioneer of the league as the WNBA gears up to celebrate its 20th season next year, bringing it all full circle.