Penny Toler

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Penny Toler
Personal information
Born (1966-03-24) March 24, 1966 (age 56)
Washington, D.C.
Listed height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Listed weight132 lb (60 kg)
Career information
High schoolSt. Anthony (Washington, D.C.)
Playing career1989–1999
PositionPoint guard
Coaching career2014–2014
Career history
As player:
1994–1996Sporting Flash
1996–1997Ramat HaSharon
19971999Los Angeles Sparks
As coach:
2014Los Angeles Sparks (interim)
Stats at

Virginia Marlita "Penny" Toler (born March 24, 1966) is an American basketball executive and former player who served most recently as the general manager of the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). Toler holds the distinction of scoring the first basket in WNBA history.

College years[edit]

Toler began her college career at San Diego State, sat out a year, and then transferred to Long Beach State, where she became an All-American basketball player. During her career Long Beach State made it to the Final Four twice, in 1987 and 1988. Toler was considered one of the best ever collegiate players under future Hall of Fame coach Joan Bonvicini. In 1995 she was inducted into the Long Beach State Athletic Hall of Fame.

Long Beach State statistics[edit]


  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Year Team GP Points PPG FG% FT%
1986–87 Long Beach State 36 787 21.9 54.5% 77.0%
1987–88 Long Beach State 30 675 22.5 50.8% 78.3%
1988–89 Long Beach State 35 731 20.9 49.7% 81.9%
Career 101 2,193 21.7 51.7% 79.5%

Professional career[edit]

Having no viable domestic professional options, Toler began her professional career in Italy, playing two seasons for Montecchio and three for Pescara. She then played two seasons in Greece for Sporting Flash, and one in Israel for Ramat HaSharon. In 1997, she returned to the United States to play in the newly organized WNBA.[2]

Toler was a point guard allocated to the Los Angeles Sparks during the player initiation round in the 1997 WNBA draft. She is most commonly remembered as the first player to score a basket in the WNBA. She did so against the New York Liberty on June 21, 1997 19:01 hour at the Los Angeles Great Western Forum.[3][4][5] Her shot was a side jumper. Toler also made the first free throw in the WNBA history.

In November 1999 she retired as a player to become the general manager of the Los Angeles Sparks. Immediately after taking on a management role, she would assemble the Los Angeles Sparks roster that would become the championship team in 2001.

Among all professional men or women sports leagues, Toler would become the fastest person to go from a player to general manager status to winning a championship in two years.[citation needed]

On July 20, 2014, Toler was named as interim head coach following the firing of Carol Ross.[6]

Toler was fired as vice president and general manager on October 4, 2019, after the Sparks were swept out of the WNBA semifinals during the 2019 WNBA Playoffs.[7] The move also came after the revelation that Toler entered the Sparks' locker room following their Game 2 loss and gave an obscenity-laced speech that included the use of the "N-word".[8]

International career[edit]

By the time the WNBA launched, Toler had already spent eight years playing basketball overseas. She has played five seasons in Italy, two seasons in Greece, and a season in Israel. While in Italy, she won a scoring title, two assist titles, and was MVP of the Italian all-star game.

Career statistics[edit]

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game  RPG  Rebounds per game
 APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game  BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game
 TO  Turnovers per game  FG%  Field-goal percentage  3P%  3-point field-goal percentage  FT%  Free-throw percentage
 Bold  Career high ° League leader

Regular season[edit]

1997 Los Angeles 28 28 32.4 .426 .184 .839 3.4 5.1 1.3 0.1 3.8 13.1
1998 Los Angeles 30 30 31.5 .415 .417 .743 3.5 4.8 1.1 0.1 3.3 12.3
1999 Los Angeles 30 4 14.2 .340 .154 .867 1.4 2.2 0.4 0.0 1.3 4.8
Career 3 years, 1 team 88 62 25.9 .406 .306 .811 2.8 4.0 0.9 0.1 2.8 10.0


1999 Los Angeles 4 0 10.5 .333 .000 .500 1.5 0.5 0.5 0.0 0.8 2.5


  1. ^ "2020-2021 Women's Basketball Record Book" (PDF). Retrieved 6 June 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ 1998 Official WNBA Guide and Register. WNBA. 1998. pp. 294–95.
  3. ^ "Penny Toler recalls landmark WNBA basket - ESPN Video". Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  4. ^ " WNBA History/Timeline". Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  5. ^ Bowman, James (2014-01-19). "Sparks Watch Day 18: The first WNBA game". Swish Appeal. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  6. ^ Associated Press, "Penny Toler to take over as coach," ESPN (July 22, 2014). Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  7. ^ ESPN Newswire (2019-10-04). "Sparks part with GM Penny Toler amid turmoil". Retrieved 2019-10-04.
  8. ^ Brehm, Mike; Bumbaca, Chris (October 4, 2019). "Los Angeles Sparks fire general manager Penny Toler after she used racial slur". USA Today. Retrieved 5 October 2019.

External links[edit]