The WNBA as a whole was founded in 1996, with the opening season beginning in 1997. The first game ever played was between the Los Angeles Sparks and the New York Liberty. The Liberty defeated the Sparks, and the Sparks would go on to a disappointing season - considerg that they had star Lisa Leslie - posting only a .500 record.
Their record dipped even lower in 1998, with a 12-18 campaign. However, 1998 was their last poor season until 2005, when they again had only a .500 season. In between those years, however, they won the WNBA championships, in 2001 and 2002.
The last two seasons have seen them losing in the first rund of the Western Conference finals, but with the addition of Candace Parker - the Lady Vols star, to help Lisa Leslie, their future for the 2008 season seems bright.
The Los Angeles Sparks are the sister team of the Lakers, and share the same team colors. They also play in the Staples Center. They are owned by Carla Christofferson and Kathy Goodman, leaders of an investment team who purchased the Sparks from Lakers owner Jerry Buss for $10 million, in December 2007.
The Sparks are a storied franchise. As far as coaches go, they’ve had Linda Sharp (1997), Julie Rosseau (1997-98), Orlando Woolridge (1998-99), Michael Cooper (1999-2004), Karleen Thompson (2004), Henry Bibby (2005), Joe Bryant, and then Michael Cooper returned in 2007.
Lisa Leslie has played her entire career for the Sparks, although she took the 2007 season off with pregnancy and then maternity leave.
The Sparks can be considered the Lady Vols redux. Lady Vols star Sidney Spencer had her rookie season last year, and in 2008 she was joined by the Lady Vols Candace Parker and Shannon Bobbitt.