The Los Angeles Sparks announced today that guard Kristi Toliver will opt out of the 2020 WNBA season scheduled to start in July at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
“This year has forced all of us to make unprecedented decisions as our society faces the coronavirus pandemic,” Managing Partner and Governor Eric Holoman said. “With that in mind, the Sparks organization understands that each player has to make the best decision for them. We completely support Kristi’s decision to opt-out of the 2020 WNBA season and look forward to her joining the team in 2021.”
The Sparks signed Toliver to a three-year contract in 2020 Free Agency. She was a member of the Sparks 2016 WNBA championship team and the 2019 Washington Mystics title team.
“Though I want very much to compete with my team, to be a leader and show up for them, I am not comfortable with the risk to my physical health – short-term and long-term – given the many unknowns of COVID-19 and the risk of injury,” Toliver said. “For me, the right decision under the circumstances is to opt out for the year.”
“During my time away I will get myself mentally and physically prepared for the 2021 season, and in light of the many social justice issues that are finally and rightfully front and center, I will find new ways to make a positive impact in my community,” Toliver added. “I look forward to rejoining my teammates in LA next season and wish them good health and safety this season. Go Sparks.”
In addition to being a two-time champion and three-time All-Star, Toliver is also an assistant coach for the NBA’s Washington Wizards.
“We will of course miss having a player of Kristi’s caliber on the court this season,” Head Coach Derek Fisher said. “However, our entire team and coaching staff respects and understands her decision. I know she’ll make an impact and be a leader in the community and we’ll be excited to have her back in Los Angeles next season.”
ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES SPARKS
Founded in 1996, the Los Angeles Sparks are one of three original franchises in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the only professional women’s sports team in California. The Sparks have won three WNBA Championships (2001, 2002, 2016), have qualified for the playoffs in 19 of their 23 seasons and remain the only active team in the league to win back-to-back titles. The Los Angeles Sparks are dedicated to ensuring each home game at Staples Center has a championship level entertainment experience while showcasing the best female athletes from around the world on the court.