Penny Toler: Los Angeles Sparks boss sacked after ‘N-word’ speech to players

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Penny Toler: Los Angeles Sparks boss sacked after ‘N-word’ speech to players
Penny Toler (centre) joined Los Angeles Sparks as general manager after retiring from playing in 1999

Los Angeles Sparks general manager Penny Toler has been sacked after admitting she used “the N-word” in a locker room speech to players.

Toler, who is black, used the term following a defeat by the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA semi-finals.

The Sparks said the 53-year-old had been “relieved of her duties” but have given no official reason for her dismissal after 20 years in the role.

“It’s unfortunate I used that word. I shouldn’t. Nobody should,” said Toler.

Speaking to ESPN, she added: “By no means did I call my players the N-word.

“I’m not saying that I couldn’t have used it in a context, but it wasn’t directed at any of my players.”

She said she had been “trying to give us obviously a spirited speech to get everybody going”, adding: “I didn’t mean to offend anyone.”

Players were also reportedly upset at the way they were sworn at and threatened with being replaced.

Toler was a founding member of the WNBA. As a Sparks player, she scored the first basket in WNBA history in 1997 and became general manager after retiring from playing in 1999.

The franchise has since made the play-offs 18 times and won three WNBA titles.

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