WNBA champion, four-time All-Star Alana Beard announces her retirement from basketball

The 2020 WNBA season is still a few months away, but it's been a busy few weeks in terms of news. First, the league and the players' union finalized a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement that will raise salaries and improve the quality of life for players. Then, Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore announced that she'll sit out a second straight season as she continues to focus her energy on fighting for the release of an inmate named Jonathan Irons. 

Now, the latest news is that one of the best perimeter defenders in league history will be hanging them up. On Thursday, Alana Beard announced that she'll be retiring from the WNBA after nearly two decades. Via Sparks.com:

"I am so grateful for the many years I've been able to play the game I love, for the amazing players I've had the opportunity to play with and compete against, and for the tremendous fans I've been lucky enough to play in front of," Beard said. "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."

The No. 2 overall pick by the Washington Mystics back in 2004, it didn't take long for Beard to show why she was a top pick. A strong defender and scorer, she made the All-Star Game four times in her first six seasons. Unfortunately, she then suffered two devastating injuries, and missed two seasons in a row, sitting out 2010 after ankle surgery, and 2011 following a foot injury. 

In 2012, she signed with the Los Angeles Sparks, and began the second stage of her career. Joining a team stocked with offensive talent, Beard leaned into her defensive skills, and became one of the best perimeter defenders the league has ever seen. A nine-time All-Defensive Team selection, Beard was named Defensive Player of the Year in both 2017 and 2018. 

She won her only title in 2016, helping the Sparks defeat the Minnesota Lynx 3-2 an iconic five-game series. Along with her DPOY Awards, she's perhaps most well-known for hitting a game-winning jumper at the buzzer to give the Sparks the win in Game 1 of the 2016 Finals. 

While she struggled with a hamstring injury that limited her to 16 games last season, her departure is still significant for a Sparks team that is thin in the backcourt. 

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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