As the WNBA seeks financial footing, often fans plea for Russian Shabtai von Kalmanovich (pictured right with Storm G Sue Bird by AFP) to buy the league. The former spy owns Spartak Moscow, dumping tons of money in his team either for player development or pay — signing Storm stars Lauren Jackson and Bird to long-term, six-figure contracts.
But the advocate for women’s hoops was shot dead while driving in Moscow, according to reports today. News articles said Kalmanovich was shot by assailants armed with semi-automatic weapons who drove by in a passing vehicle.
Jackson, who always spoke fondly of Kalmanovich, is currently in Australia rehabilitating the stress fracture in her lower back. A request was made for comment from both Storm players.
Spartak is currently in season. Other WNBA players on the squad are MVP Diana Taurasi, a Phoenix G, New York C Janel McCarville, Chicago C Sylvia Fowles, San Antonio PG Edwige Lawson-Wade, Connecticut G Anete Jekabsone-Zogota, and Minnesota G Kelly Miller.