NBA owners wanted to establish the WNBA as an alternative league to gain female interest in basketball.
Players like Lisa Leslie (1972-present) were among the pioneers that have made the WNBA a respectable league.
Leslie is often considered one of the greatest WNBA players of all-time, and she also was one of the league’s first major faces who became the first player to dunk during a WNBA game.
A USC standout with three all-American selections, the 6’5″ Leslie was drafted by the Los Angeles Sparks and had a 12-year professional career. Leslie averaged 17.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 blocks per game throughout her career.
She was able to win three MVP Awards, have nine All-WNBA selections (six First Team and three Second Team), two Defensive Player of the Year Awards and 15 WNBA Player of the Week selections (a league record).
Leslie’s stellar play helped lead the Sparks to two WNBA titles.
Besides her WNBA career, she was a four-time gold medalist for the US Women’s Basketball Team (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008) and two world championships (1998, 2002).
Right now, Leslie is a fashion model and actress.