On Sunday night, a few hours after a WNBA championship slipped through the Sparks’ fingers, Nneka Ogwumike lay in bed and did what she usually avoids doing.
Ogwumike, the heartbeat of the Sparks and the league’s most valuable player, has a gift for turning the page. She can forget missed shots, a hollow stat line, a loss, immediately after a game. She can laugh about any of it too.
But here she was, wide awake, jogging her brain to answer a question that would not go away: What kept the Sparks from clinching the title on their home floor?
“I think that everyone out there was playing to win a championship,” Ogwumike said of the Sparks’ six-point loss in...