A basketball player, previously for the Univeristy of Connecticut and currently for the WNBA's Orlando Miracle. Sales is UConn's career scoring leader, and her record-breaking feat caused a national controversy in 1998.

At six feet tall, Sales is tall enough to be a forward, but she's also quick enough to play at guard. Sales is also an accurate three-point shooter, and all these skills blend together to make her a dependable scorer. In college she averaged 15.5 points per game, and in the WNBA she's averaged 13.6 points per game in all games as of this writeup (June 4, 2002). Sales been an All-Star in her first three WNBA seasons, and she was an All-American in her last two years at UConn.

What makes her WNBA career particularly impressive is that she spent all of 1998 rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament from the early spring. It's an awful injury, and not everyone can recapture their pre-injury level of play.

The ACL injury was sustained during her UConn senior season in a game against the University of Notre Dame. Cruelly, the ligament ruptured when she was just one point away from UConn's career scoring record, which was held by Kerry Bascom-Poliquim.

But ... her UConn career wasn't over yet.

Nykesha Sales was well-liked. That's how the whole thing got started. Geno Auriemma, the UConn coach, felt terrible that such a nice person would not only miss the remaining games of her senior year, but that she would be just one point away from the record. But Villanova University was the last team on the schedule, and Auriemma was good friends with their coach, Harry Perretta.

It was a simple deal. Sales was announced as one of UConn's starters, even though she could barely hobble around without assistance. The Villanova players didn't attempt to control the opening tip, and UConn passed the ball to Sales underneath the basket, who made the easy shot to break the record. Then Auriemma called a 20-second timeout, took Sales out of the game — to a standing ovation from the Villanova fans — and allowed Villanova to score an unconstested layup. That evened the game at 2-2, and with about 20 seconds of the first half used up, the game was on for real.

After the game, the media's opinion on this was not mostly negative. The Hartford Courant, UConn's home paper, was very critical. A radio host called Auriemma a "pig," which was rather uncalled for. (Auriemma later took the low road as he called an ESPN anchor "stupid" and an "idiot" and questioned the manhood of sports-radio callers.)

This brought to mind other famous sports stunts:

Anyway, as a controversy, the Nykesha Sales incident had legs. Villanova and UConn are both Big East teams, and Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese rationalized it to the New York Daily News by saying, "It's a women's sport; this was a female player. I am a man. I am not going to pretend to handle decisions on (men and women) exactly the same way." That comment tended to piss everyone off.

Then, ESPN the Magazine reported that in an earlier game at Seton Hall, the Seton Hall scorekeeper accidentally credited Sales with two points that ought to have gone to another player. (Video replays confirmed that the ESPN report was true.) However, scorekeepers' decisions are the responsibility of the home team, and Seton Hall wasn't touching this one. They let the incorrect box score stand; their rationale was that these sort of mistakes happen all the time.

Seton Hall is right. Scorekeepers are often students looking for beer money. To paraphrase the movie Election, it's not like they're electing the Pope. I wouldn't be surprised if Bascom-Poliquim's "true" point total was +/- 20 points from what she "officially" has. So who cares?

Sources/more info:
Frank Deford: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/features/1998/deford/0304/
NY Times: http://www.s-t.com/daily/02-98/02-27-98/b09sp100.htm
AP: http://archive.sportserver.com/newsroom/ap/bkb/1998/col/bkw/feat/archive/031098/bkw28694.html
AP: http://archive.sportserver.com/newsroom/ap/bkb/1998/col/bkw/feat/archive/022698/bkw52199.html

UConn Stats:
Year      G    FG   FGA   3FG  3FGA    FT  FTA   REB    A    TO     PTS    AVG
1994-95  35   159   294    35    81    45   77   162   73    61     398   11.4
1995-96  38   237   459    30    89    92  131   168  101    92     596   15.7
1996-97  34   215   430    29    81    97  128   192  111   102     556   16.4
1997-98  30   241   426    40   105   106  135   166   86    95     628   20.9
TOTALS  137   852  1609   134   356   340  471   688  371   350    2178   15.9

1999 ORL  32 32  1,039   153-397  36-109  95-118  44  91 135  91  69  69   97   437 
2000 ORL  32 32    995   170-383  47-119   43-62  43  96 139  69  47  67   92   430  
2001 ORL  32 31  1,039   166-379  43-137   58-74  57 115 172  58  70  72  109   433 
2002 ORL   2  2     65     12-31    1-10   12-14   3   4   7   4   5   8    9    37 
Career    98 97  3,138 501-1,190 127-375 208-268 147 306 453 222 191 216  307 1,337 

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.