Minneapolis, Minn.– The back and forth battle WNBA Finals battle between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx culminated Thursday with Candace Parker and the Sparks hoisting the WNBA Championship trophy, in what can be best described as her most trying of seasons.
Donning Tennessee Orange sneakers in tribute, an emotional Parker cried while telling interviewers that the win was for the late Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, who died in June after a battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Parker scored 28 points and put up 12 rebounds en route to being named Finals MVP.
It was an emotional type of season for Parker, who not only lost her collegiate coach and mentor, but was also left off of the Olympic roster for the first time in her professional career. But in the win, Parker credited the effort of the entire Los Angeles team.
“I can’t even describe this journey that this team has been on,” she said.
“I mean, everybody on this team has a story, and this last year has been really tough for me personally, and my teammates and my coaches were always there for me.”
That support Parker alluded to was perfectly exemplified when Los Angeles coach Brian Agler played the Tennessee fight song “Rocky Top” during the post-game press conference.
“I had to do that, and it’s nothing other than I’ve never been around somebody that has been critiqued so hard, and I’ve not ever been around anybody that I’m more happy for than Candace tonight, for what she’s gone through this season,” Agler said.
“It’s been unbelievable. She stayed on the high road, fought through everything, stayed with it, was persistent, and sort of like — she went through sort of like what our team went through, the ups and downs.”
Game five, being just another chapter in the up-and-down season came down to the final seconds. Maya Moore had just scored for the Lynx, giving the Sparks just 15.4 seconds to overcome a 76-75 deficit.
Following a Chelsea Gray miss, Nneka Ogwumike would grab the rebound only to be blocked by Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles. Ogwumike would not only retain possession following the block, she went on to score the eventual winning basket, leaving only 2.1 seconds on the clock. Lindsey Whalen would then heave it from half court in hopes of a miracle but would fall short.
Ogwumike would tally 12 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. Chelsea Gray chipped in with 11 and Essence Carson added eight.
The Lynx, meanwhile fell just shy of attaining their fourth WNBA Championship. Moore led Minnesota’s effort, scoring 23 points to go along with 11 assists. Seimone Augustus finished with 17 points and following the game, offered praise to the league for its newly implemented playoff format.
“You think about the different playoff format that they implemented this year, and you couldn’t have a better series with the two top teams in the regular season competing against each other going through a five-game series, competing at the highest level,” Augustus said.
“This was what we needed, and I hope that we gained a lot of fans from around the world, around this country, and they really recognize how well women’s basketball is being played here in the USA.”