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4-time All-Star Alana Beard retires from WNBA after 15 years

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4-time All-Star Alana Beard retires from WNBA after 15 years

FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2017, file photo, Los Angeles Sparks guard Alana Beard, right, shoots as Atlanta Dream forward Aneika Henry-Morello defends during the first half of a WNBA basketball game in Los Angeles. Alana Beard, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year who won a WNBA championship with the Los Angeles Sparks, is retiring after 15 years. The Sparks announced her decision on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020.(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Alana Beard, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year who won a WNBA championship with the Los Angeles Sparks, is retiring after 15 years.

In 2016, she helped the Sparks win a third WNBA title. She is third in all-time steals in the league with 710. Beard won Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2017 and '18.

She also played for the Washington Mystics.

The Sparks announced her decision Thursday. Team managing partner and governor Eric Holoman thanked Beard for what he called her ''historic contributions'' to the franchise and the league.

The guard-forward from Shreveport, Louisiana, was a four-time All-Star.

''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.''

Beard had career averages of 11.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 steals, while shooting 43% from the field. She started 402 of 419 regular-season games and made 42 playoff appearances.

Beard was taken second overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft by the Mystics. She attended Duke, where she became the first NCAA player to score 2,600 points, dish out 500 assists and record 400 steals.