Former WNBA player Alana Beard joins efforts to bring the expansion squad to Oakland

By on October 28, 2021 0

Former WNBA player Alana Beard has joined efforts to bring a WNBA expansion team to Oakland, it was announced Thursday. The 14-year-old WNBA veteran will team up with the African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG) in the pursuit of a new franchise.

Beard, Duke’s second overall pick in 2004, played six seasons for the Washington Mystics, then eight more with the Los Angeles Sparks, with whom she won the 2016 League Championship.

“As a professional athlete who has made the transition to the business world, I now understand more than ever the importance of having a great team and strong partnerships,” said Beard, 39, who moved to Bay Area to work in venture capital after retiring from the 2019 WNBA season. “I’ve always considered owning a WNBA team. It made sense to get together to partner on this. “

The WNBA, which just completed its 25th season, has 12 franchises. He hasn’t had an expansion squad since the Atlanta Dream in 2008. The Dream, which was sold in February, has fellow former WNBA player Renee Montgomery as part of his ownership group. .

“It’s something that I really admired,” said Beard, two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year and four-time All-Star winner. “Kudos to Renee and the other women who are chasing exactly that dream.”

One of the league’s original eight franchises in 1997 was in Sacramento, but that team closed after the 2009 season. The Bay Area has been seen as an expansion opportunity ever since. The short-lived American Women’s Basketball League had a team in San Jose in 1996-98, and defending national champion Stanford Cardinal continues to be one of the nation’s top girls’ college programs.

Beard appeared in a video call Thursday with Oakland Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kaplan and others who support the introduction of a franchise in Oakland, including Gina Johnson Lillard, the mother of Portland Trail Blazers goaltender Damian Lillard and the West Region Director of Mothers of Professional Basketball. .

“The leadership of black women here is incredible,” said Alicia Garza, co-founder of the International Black Lives Matter Movement. “WNBA, we really need you and we want you to be in Oakland. This project aligns at all levels in terms of my values ​​and the things I prioritize.”

The AASEG said the Oakland City Council, Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the Joint Powers Authority have approved a path for a WNBA team to play at Oakland Arena, which was home to the Golden State Warriors from 1971 to 2019. The WNBA said it had no statement on Thursday’s announcement from the Oakland group. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told ESPN earlier this month that the league is hoping for expansion over the next five years.

“We’re doing all of this data mining now,” Engelbert said. “I guess by next summer or around the same time next year, in our 26th season, we’ll be talking about the number of teams and a venue list.”

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