Sparks’ Lisa Leslie returns to practice but return date isn’t set

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Sparks Center Lisa Leslie appeared in her first team practice today, after her sprained right knee has kept her sidelined since June 19.

Leslie, wearing a knee brace, practiced with the team in numerous drills involving free throws, posting up and cutting as well as individual shooting. She abstained, however, from five-on-five half-court drills.

Leslie declined to talk after practice, other than saying, ‘You saw what I saw. I ran up and down the court.’

It remains unclear to what degree doctors have cleared Leslie to practice. She returned to practice in a limited capacity on June 30, where she had been limited until today to individual shooting. The league’s all-time leading scorer had hoped to rejoin the 4-8 Sparks as early as July 22 when they visit the Seattle Storm, but a team official says she’s struggling with pivoting and is listed as ‘hopeful’ to play Wednesday.


The team official said Leslie is also ‘hopeful’ to play in this year’s WNBA All-Star game July 25, where she is the top vote-getter at center in the Western Conference. Upon the announcement, Leslie maintained her uncertainty whether she’ll play in her eighth All-Star game. Before spraining her knee, Leslie was averaging 10.4 points and 7.4 rebounds while battling a swollen thumb that she jammed during training camp.

‘She was moving up and down the floor, but not at the speed that she’s used to,’ Sparks Coach Michael Cooper said. ‘This is just the first day of her trying to come back.’

--Mark Medina