When the noise settled and the champagne stopped flying, a calm that lasted no more than 30 seconds inside the cramped visitors locker room, Candace Parker ducked into a quiet corner and put her arm around Nneka Ogwumike.
Parker had spent the previous 30 minutes basking in the Sparks’ first WNBA championship since 2002. As soon as the buzzer sounded on the Sparks’ 77-76 win over the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday night, she laid flat on the Target Center floor as her teammates jumped on top of her. She proudly led her daughter, Lailaa, through an emotional on-court celebration. She yelled, “Where are the scissors? That net is coming down!” And then someone appeared with scissors, and it did.
She cried. She smiled. And now, with the weight of the franchise’s title drought lifted off her shoulders, she paused to take it all in.
Nneka Ogwumike got the ball on the baseline and hit a fallaway shot with three seconds on the clock, giving the Sparks a 77-76 win and the franchise's first WNBA championship since 2002.
The Sparks, who trailed by one after three quarters, grabbed a three-point lead with 7:33 left in the game. Chelsea Gray scored the Sparks' first six points of the quarter, which included two mid-range jumpers and a double-pump layup in traffic. Ogwumike then crashed the offensive glass to convert a second-chance layup while hanging in the air, and Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve quickly called a timeout.
The Sparks still held a three-point lead with four minutes left, and then Kristi Tolliver hit a falling-down three at the end of the shot clock to stretch that to six. On the Sparks' next possession, Tolliver missed a three but Candace Parker pulled down the offensive rebound and hit a layup.