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2 Sparks Picked to Compete in Athens

October 09, 2003|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

Spark standouts Lisa Leslie and DeLisha Milton-Jones will not get a third WNBA championship ring in a row. But they do have a shot at adding to their Olympic medal collections.

Leslie and Milton-Jones were among seven players selected Wednesday to the U.S. women's senior national team that will compete in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Also chosen were Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever, Shannon Johnson of the Connecticut Sun, Katie Smith of the Minnesota Lynx, Dawn Staley of the Charlotte Sting and Tina Thompson of the Houston Comets. Staley said Wednesday this would be her last Olympics.

The Comets' Van Chancellor, who coached the USA team to the gold medal in the 2002 FIBA World Championships and was chosen the Olympic coach in June, said, "We coached six of the seven in China [in 2002] and we've added Tina. The group gives us a lot of players who can play at different positions."

The players announced Wednesday were chosen by a nine-member national committee, which included a nonvoting chairperson. Five roster spots are still open. The complete 12-player roster will be set in July, a month before the Olympics begin.

WNBA officials have said they will suspend the 2004 season during the Olympics but have not decided when the league's season will halt.

Leslie was on the 1996 and 2000 U.S. gold-medal Olympic teams; Milton-Jones played for the 2000 team.

"It's great to represent your city and state in the WNBA," Leslie said, "but to put on the red, white and blue ... I'm proud to say I'm an American."

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