LA Sparks introduce Amanda Zahui B at press conference

Photo Credit: Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images

Amanda is relocating her show’s studios from Broadway to Hollywood.

This free agency period has been a rollercoaster ride for the Los Angeles Sparks. Losing Candace Parker to the Chicago Sky. Losing both Chelsea Gray and Riquna Williams to the Las Vegas Aces while signing Erica Wheeler from the Indiana Fever.

After the Williams news broke, many within Sparks Twitter started calling for Derek Fisher’s job. Here is how Fisher responded – by inking a deal that brings Amanda Zahui B from the New York Liberty to Tinseltown.

So much for it never raining in Southern California.

Zahui B joining the Sparks puts her on a team already full of veteran talent as opposed to being one of the “baby vets” New York fielded last season in the bubble. She opened her remarks by thanking those in New York who congratulated on the move out west.

Something that inspired her to make the move to the Sparks was a conversation she had with Derek Fisher. Zahui B says Fisher told her she is not where she should be as a player, but that he can push her in that direction to be great.

I appreciate that honesty, saying that I’m not where I’m supposed to be yet, but he is willing to work with me and just push me there.

–Amanda Zahui B, Los Angeles Sparks

Joining Los Angeles means playing alongside the sisters Ogwumike. Zahui B shouted out west Africa (Nigeria) in her remarks and says she has known Chiney a bit more than Nneka but that both Ogwumikes have been great to her.

There is a particular aspect to Nneka’s game Zahui B says she would like to learn from the Ogwumike elder.

I’m really excited to learn from Nneka, her footwork. That is something that I’m really looking forward to. We all know she’s got great footwork, probably one of the best in the league in the world.

–Amanda Zahui B, Los Angeles Sparks

I do think that all three of us can really balance each other out. We all are a threat under the basket, but we also all can shoot.

–Amanda Zahui B, Los Angeles Sparks

Few teams during her Liberty days know more about how proficient a shooter Zahui B is than the Sparks. Two seasons ago, New York upset Los Angeles 98-92 at Staples Center behind seven treys and a career-high 37 points courtesy of “Zahui 3.”

She said later that she feels she has her best games in Los Angeles. Even with Zahui B’s ability to knock down shots from downtown, she did say she wants to be more selective in her shot selection from three and get to the basket more from behind the arc.

I’m really looking forward on … developing my overall game and keep on just getting better on the 3-point line.

–Amanda Zahui B, Los Angeles Sparks

She says that Fisher wanted her to put more emphasis on her game in the paint as well as an emphasis on playing “relaxed,” as she put it.

That really made me excited when we had that conversation. I wanted to get on the court right away.

–Amanda Zahui B, Los Angeles Sparks

Something else that probably pushed Zahui B to want to get on the court right away upon her joining Los Angeles was the Sparks’ winning culture. One way or another, it appears that the Sparks are always in the thick of things in terms of the WNBA’s playoff landscape. After all, this team won a championship in 2016, returned to the Finals in 2017 and was in the semifinals two seasons later.

I have teammates now that have won multiple championships and just, some of the best players in the world. And that mentality and the atmosphere that is in the Staples Center, I’m just really looking forward to playing out there.

–Amanda Zahui B, Los Angeles Sparks

Of course, there are two sides to basketball – offense and defense. Zahui B believes that defense is something that she has to improve on. This was particularly the case in her last few seasons when she was on Liberty teams that went through their share of struggles on the defensive side.

I take pride in defending the basket and blocking shots. That’s something that really gets me going.

–Amanda Zahui B, Los Angeles Sparks

The side of free agency that goes beyond business is the side that, sometimes, gets less attention but is no less important to players going through that process. Zahui B is much beloved among her Lib teammates and is much beloved among Lib Loyals. She says she will miss New York City and her seafoam and green sisterhood – including Rebecca Allen and the rookies that comprised half of last year’s Liberty rendition.

Everyone knows that mine and Bec’s relationship is very special, something that I value a lot. So, I’m going to miss her a lot. And all of the rookies from last season.

–Amanda Zahui B, Los Angeles Sparks

Speaking of 3-point shooters, Zahui B joins a Sparks team that includes two of the most accurate markswomen in the entire WNBA in Erica Wheeler and Kristi Toliver. With so many that can drain shots from downtown, the forecast around Staples Center and LA Live might as well be cloudy with a chance of rain whenever the purple and gold hit the hardwood.

I cannot wait to pass KT the ball when she’s in the corner. Because that’s automatically money and it’s been that ever since I’ve been in the league. So I’m just excited about getting a couple of assists there because as soon as she hits that corner 3, you know it’s game over. I’ve experienced it.

–Amanda Zahui B, Los Angeles Sparks

Erica is such an amazing soul, and I’m just really excited to play alongside with her and her energy and her love for the game. It’s going to be so dope.

–Amanda Zahui B, Los Angeles Sparks

When she was first coming up the basketball ranks, she says that a dream of hers was playing in the EuroLeague. With her playing in both the WNBA and overseas, she mentions how she gets to play against the best women’s players year-round – both in Europe and in the United States.

And Zahui B is in the United States. In fact, she says she is already in Los Angeles and she wants to get out and explore the area.

I’ve never spent this much time out here, only when we had away games and when we were here for two days. So, I’ve only really seen downtown. And now I have the opportunity to go to the beaches, to go hike … and just walk around. I like a nice scenery and a good coffee, so just do chill stuff.

–Amanda Zahui B, Los Angeles Sparks

The cities of Los Angeles and New York both offer chill stuff to do, but the cities’ WNBA teams could not be in more different realms in their histories. While the Sparks have been contenders year in and year out, the Liberty have encountered rough on-court waters the last three seasons, but have made moves this free agency period (Betnijah Laney, Natasha Howard, Sami Whitcomb) that has some believing a return to the postseason is in the cards in Brooklyn.

Zahui B wanted it to be known that even though the results may not have been what the Liberty were hoping for that New York is a team with a winning attitude.

Everyone that played in New York are all winners. The seasons haven’t really gone that we planned, but that (doesn’t) take away the fact that every single day at practice, we went in with killer mentality and we wanted to win. And we went at each other, it just didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to.

–Amanda Zahui B, Los Angeles Sparks

She feels she will feed off of her teammates and the winning culture that has become a staple of the Sparks organization. Zahui B says she did not completely know if she would be on another team at the conclusion of her free agency and it was a long process that included waiting while she was overseas. She says she began to appreciate the process more when she began having more conversations about where she would play next.

Zahui B was also asked about her book club which she started in New York and that it will continue in one way or another with her joining the Sparks.

The girls that I was working with and reading with literally inspired me every single time we had a session and I want to keep on building on that. So, it’s not something that I’m going to give up on. I don’t have any direct plans right now on how I’m going to go about it, but the book club is going to happen one way or another.

–Amanda Zahui B, Los Angeles Sparks

Anyone who has followed her career (or her social media) knows that standing up in the face of injustice is something that defines who Zahui B is as a person, which is why she fits today’s WNBA like a glove.

She says that it does not matter whether she is in Los Angeles, New York or Sweden – if she sees injustice or hears about injustice, she will have something to say and do.

That’s just what I do. So, it really doesn’t matter where I am in the world, I’m still going to do that. I still believe in humanity and that we all need to be treated equal and with love. So, yeah. It really doesn’t matter where in the world I am. And the league is doing a great job of supporting us in all of our acts of activism and I know that no matter where I am, my teammates, whether it’s from New York or out here in LA, and friends from different teams are going to support me just like I support them in everything.

–Amanda Zahui B, Los Angeles Sparks

She closed by answering a question pertaining to how basketball found her when she was growing up in Sweden. She mentioned how the seeds for her hoops career were planted with her family pushing her to partake in extracurricular activities as a child. Zahui B says her family wanted her to pick a sport – either volleyball or basketball and she choose the basketball court over volleyball’s because she heard of Michael Jordan.

She says she went to one practice and “fell in love.”