When thinking of the Los Angeles Sparks, many associate the names Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker with the team. Head coach Brian Agler is also a notable name as is Magic Johnson given his connection to the Sparks and Lakers.
One should also think of the name Christine Simmons—the organization’s President and Chief Operations Officer. The Shadow League recently bestowed its Leadership Award upon the Sparks executive and UCLA alum and had a chance to talk with her about the ins and outs of what she does.
As Operations Officer, I deal with a lot of our operations off the court and I interact with our fans in a very tangible way. That gets me out of the office and into the community. There can be any number of things that can happen on a day-to-day basis but it’s always fun.
She went on to talk about the importance of community and how it is integral to what the Sparks have built in Southern California. Simmons also mentioned it is especially significant given the Sparks are the lone WNBA franchise in the Golden State.
Excellence on and off the court is what we strive for and making sure that everybody understands how much our fans mean to us as a franchise. We’re the only professional women’s team in the state of California.
Simmons also mentioned how she believes the strength of the WNBA has also helped the overseas leagues as well as using the global platform that is Los Angeles to continue to expand the reach of the women’s game.
Los Angeles is one of those key metropolitan areas that the world looks at. The question is how often do we use our LA shine to put a light on these stars on the court? That’s what we continue to work on, making sure that platform is visible as possible.
On how the women’s game is played, she described it as being more about fundamentals and emphasis on pure five-on-five basketball with importance on defensive elements.
It’s fundamentally sound, it’s not Lob City, but it’s team ball.
She encouraged those who are in high school or college who want to work their way up to becoming a WNBA executive to always have confidence and that they’d be the hardest workers around as well as emphasizing a need to have “thick skin” and maintain a competitive fire.
If you want to work in this industry, that is the mindset you have to have. At the end of the day, don’t lose sight of your goal and do what it takes to get there.
Simmons was also asked about the significance of Becky Hammon’s accomplishments—including becoming the first woman assistant coach in the NBA.
There’s still lots of things we’re still trying to get to as a league and what Becky has accomplished is phenomenal. We’re so excited to see what she has done as an assistant coach and as head coach of the Spurs Summer League team. She’s truly breaking barriers, but it is going to take time for this to become the rule and not the exception, of course. I think we’re headed that way.