For allegedly sexually assaulting a former WNBA teammate, recently released Los Angeles Sparks forward Latasha Byears. According to the Los Angeles Times, Byears, 30, and a man allegedly sexually assaulted the victim at a party following a Sparks victory over the Sacramento Monarchs in Los Angeles on June 5. Citing a "personal matter," Byears left her teammates in Sacramento before their next game, on June 7, and was waived three days later. Her dismissal shocked the Sparks, who have won the past two WNBA championships thanks in part to the bench play of the 5'11", 200-pound Byears, a seven-year vet. "We were like 'What? Why?' " forward DeLisha Milton told the Los Angeles Daily News. "We had a lot of questions." Last week the Los Angeles County district attorney's office confirmed that they are looking into the alleged assault. "The case is still under investigation," a spokesperson for the DA's office told SI on Monday. "There's no telling when it will end." The Sparks say they are cooperating with the investigation. (As of Monday, Byears, who could not be reached for comment, had not been charged.)
In a preseason GQ profile Byears described herself as "the roughest player in the WNBA," and her actions on and off the court have supported that assertion. In 2002 she was suspended for one game after pleading no contest to reckless driving and for two games after throwing a ball at an opposing player. But her physical play won her many admirers. Before the season WNBA G.M.'s voted Byears the league's most underrated player, and former Sparks teammate Lisa Leslie told GQ, "Without [Byears], we don't win, and that's both championships."