Sparks veteran Alana Beard announces retirement

Alana Beard left her mark in a historic 15-year WNBA career.

In her last season with the Sparks, Alana Beard was the bridge between her teammates and coaches while on the sidelines due to her hamstring injury. (Photo by Tony Rodriguez / Associated Press)

After 15 seasons in the WNBA, Los Angeles Sparks guard/forward Alana Beard has announced her retirement from the league.

In her native Shreveport, Louisiana, Beard made the announcement Wednesday on the Tim Fletcher Show, on the KWKH 1130 AM station. When Fletcher asked Beard about returning for her 16th season, she responded, “You just put me on the spot … I’m still working on that. I’m gonna say probably not.”

After being drafted out of Duke by the Washington Mystics second overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft, Beard has made a name for herself throughout her career as a scorer early in her career and defender in her latter years. After dealing with ankle injuries in 2010 and 2011, Beard put more emphasis on her defense, which allowed her to last longer in the league.

Beard retires as a back-to-back consecutive Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018, as well as a 2016 WNBA Champion with the Sparks. She concludes her playing career third all-time in steals in WNBA history with 710. She received nine All-Defensive team honors with five First Team selections and four Second Team selections.

Beard averaged 11.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.7 steals per game with 43.5% shooting from the field in 419 regular season games, starting 402, and made 42 playoff appearances.

Her time with the Sparks and the WNBA may have come to a close, but she has made a lasting impact on that locker room with the relationships she has forged over the years.

“On behalf of the entire Sparks family I’d like to thank Alana Beard for her historic contributions to our organization and the WNBA,” Sparks Managing Partner and Governor Eric Holoman said in the team’s press release.

“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.”

– Eric Holoman, Sparks Managing Partner and Governer

After winning her second Defensive Player of the Year award, Beard contemplated retirement, but Candace Parker convinced her to return. However, the injury bug hit Beard once again with her hamstring that kept her out for a month of play.

That did not stop her from being a mentor figure for guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, who filled into Beard’s defensive role in her first season with the Sparks. Beard spoke to Ruffin-Pratt about joining the Sparks during the off-season and Ruffin-Pratt was sold. Beard had been of service for Ruffin-Pratt, giving her advice and lessons throughout the season.

Nneka Ogwumike told The Suave Report after their unfortunate end of the season that playing with Beard was a lasting memory of the 2019 season.

“She was present whether she was out there or not,” Ogwumike said about the veteran’s presence being felt with the team.

Sydney Wiese continues to have the utmost love and praise for Beard. Wiese told The Suave Report that being around Beard was a lasting memory of her this past season as well.

“Hanging around Alana,” said affectionately by Wiese. “She’s my mom.”

“Anytime you can learn from her, have any conversations with her. She has such a positive perspective on life,” Wiese said. “I’m really grateful to have Alana here and to have learned from her these last few seasons.”

Life beyond basketball has already started for Beard as she can be seen on the ACC Network doing commentary and opening a Mellow Mushroom restaurant. She has now set her sights on Silicon Valley.

“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,” said Beard.

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