Los Angeles Sparks: WNBA bubble during pandemic brings on new challenges

Los Angeles Sparks(Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Sparks(Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /

Due to the coronavirus, the WNBA bubble has presented numerous challenges for the Los Angeles Sparks.

The Los Angeles Sparks are coming off a semifinals loss to the Connecticut Sun last season and are geared to get back into the playoffs, but they will be without two veterans Kristin Toliver and Chiney Ogwumike.

Toliver is opting out of playing due to the risk of contracting coronavirus while Ogwumike is concerned about injuries from playing without a full training camp. The Sparks signed rookie guard Te’a Cooper and forward Reshanda Gray to fill the roster spots.

Los Angeles will still be a solid team entering the bubble led by six-time WNBA All Star Nneka Ogwumike (Chiney’s older sister), three-time WNBA All Star Chelsea Gray, and two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker.

The WNBA is in a bubble of their own at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. where they’ll play a 22-game regular season. While the NBA and the MLS are in Orlando at Disney World Resort, the WNBA was placed at a fancy sports facility with a hotel on campus. The Academy is state-of-the-art, but compared to the NBA’s facilities, it doesn’t seem like much.

You can find a compilation of problems in an article by For The Win.

Head coach Derek Fisher is entering his second season with the team after finishing last season in first place in the conference. Fisher is a 20-year NBA veteran, having played most of his career with the LA Lakers, and is in his second coaching job after spending a season and a half with New York Knicks from 2014-2016 before he was fired midway through his second year.

Fisher told reporters last week that he is more focused on improving the team’s chemistry through strong relationships and a different way to doing things.

He got some criticism last season when he only played Parker 11 minutes in Game 3 of last year’s knockout loss to the Sun.

The Sparks’ first game is on July 25 against the Phoenix Mercury in a nationally televised game on ABC.

Coincidentally, Chiney Ogwumike is set to make history as the first Black female to be on a national radio show for ESPN while she is away from her team.