Sparks star Alana Beard announces her retirement

Sparks guard Alana Beard blocks a shot by Lynx forward Maya Moore during a game on Aug. 12, 2019.
Sparks guard Alana Beard blocks a shot by Lynx forward Maya Moore during a playoff game last season.
(Stacy Bengs / Associated Press)

Alana Beard, the WNBA’s two-time defensive player of the year who finished her career with the Sparks, has played her last game, she said Wednesday on the Tim Fletcher radio show.

Joining Fletcher in her hometown of Shreveport, La., Beard talked about beginning a career in venture capitalism.

“You put me on the spot,” Beard replied to Fletcher when he asked about her retiring. “I’m still working on that.”


It became official on Thursday, when her retirement was announced by the Sparks.

“On behalf of the entire Sparks family I’d like to thank Alana Beard for her historic contributions to our organization and the WNBA,” said Eric Holoman, Sparks managing partner. “Not only does Alana leave the WNBA as a champion and one of the best defenders in the league’s history, she leaves as one of the greatest teammates and professionals the WNBA has ever seen. Alana will forever be a Spark and we’ll continue to support her and be a resource as she enters the next stage of her life and career.”

Beard discussed on Fletcher’s show her work in educating children on how to swim after starting a program in the aftermath of six Shreveport teenagers drowning in 2010, and looking forward to starting a career in the Silicon Valley to learn about venture capitalism. She has interned at Next Play Capital.

“As an athlete wanting to cross over into the business world, you crave the access and the knowledge,” Beard said last spring. “There’s so much to learn.”

Beard was the No. 2 overall pick out of Duke in the 2004 WNBA draft and was a nine-time WNBA all-defensive player during her 16-year career.

She spent her final eight seasons on the Sparks, with whom she won a title in 2016 and was the league’s defensive player of the year in 2017 and 2018. She finishes with career averages of 11.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 steals. She also was a WNBA All-Star four times.

“I am so grateful for the many years I’ve been able to play the game I love, for the amazing players I’ve had the opportunity to play with and compete against, and for the tremendous fans I’ve been lucky enough to play in front of,” Beard said in a statement. “I am excited for my next chapter and ready to pursue my next career. I look forward to using my platform to create opportunities for the communities that supported me throughout my journey, women and people of color.”