The Los Angeles Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx have developed into one of the most iconic rivalries in the 21-year history of the WNBA. Their WNBA Finals rematch showcased the best basketball players in the world.
Throughout their careers, starters on both teams earned the highest awards for their talent.
Both teams house League MVPs, Finals MVPs, league record holders, and Olympic gold medalists. This made for an entertaining five-game series, ending with the Lynx having their vengeance with a 85-76 victory in Game 5. Minnesota now ties the historic Houston Comets with four WNBA titles; the most a single team has been awarded.
“We tried to eliminate staying in a rotation as much as we could, tried to keep bigger bodies on them, but they were persistent, more persistent than we were,” said Sparks head coach Brian Agler after Game Five.
Los Angeles deteriorated in the second half, forward Nneka Ogwumike fouled out in the fourth quarter, and the Sparks were also 2-18 from behind the arc. Five Lynx players hit double digits compared the Sparks four. Both forward Maya Moore and center Sylvia Fowles reached the double digits in rebounding to claim the home court victory.
The Sparks did not recover from their Game 4 loss at home. Although guard Odyssey Sims fought for L.A. with a strong 18-point and 4-steal effort, the Sparks fell 69-80. Minnesota had more turnovers but made up for it by almost doubling the Sparks in rebounding 48 to 28.
“If I didn’t do anything else, I just wanted to make it my business to make sure I just go out there and rebound, and that was my downfall last year,” said Fowles after winning the championship. “I fell on the court, that haunted me for a long time after Game 5 last year.”
The Sparks led the series with a 75-64 win in Game 3. Los Angeles held Minnesota to eight points in the first quarter, Moore and guard Seimone Augustus did not score until the second half.
Games 1 and 2 were played in Minnesota, the Lynx dominated in game two with a 70-68 win. Fowles contributed four of the team’s nine steals; the Lynx blocked six shots, half by the hands of forward Rebekkah Brunson.
The Sparks started the Finals series with a 85-84 triumph in Game 1. Guard Chelsea Gray’s rise to prominence was exposed as she scored 27 points and six assists. Los Angeles led by as much as 26 points in the match.
“Chelsea has been growing,” said Ogwumike prior to Game Three. “I think we saw the beginning of her growth towards the end of last year and now we see where it has gone.”
Minnesota is etched their names in history with Brunson being the WNBA player with the most League Championship titles and Fowles becoming the fourth player to earn more than one Finals MVP honor. However, the Sparks are not far behind; five players were voted WNBA All-Stars, guard Alana Beard was named 2017 Defensive Player of the Year and forward Jantel Lavender was the 2016 Sixth Woman of the Year.
Although they lost in the Finals, one can argue that the Sparks are the future of the WNBA.