Los Angeles Sparks celebrate WNBA championship with their trophy and their fans

After snapping a few pictures with his iPhone, Brian Agler turned and pointed up at the big screen behind the stage. 

Hundreds of people were gathered at L.A. Live to celebrate the Sparks’ WNBA championship Monday and Angler, the team’s coach, wanted to remind them all of why they were there. Everyone craned their necks to watch the last three plays of Game 5 on Thursday, which the Sparks won in Minneapolis over the Minnesota Lynx to clinch their first title since 2002. 

When the final buzzer sounded and cameras zoomed in on Candace Parker and Kristi Tolliver hugging on the court, the crowd cheered as if it were happening all over again. 

For one more day, it practically was. 


“For us to come back and be celebrating with the people that are there for us all the time with so much enthusiasm, I think is special,” Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike said. “Not just for us, special for the city and special for them.”

Each player addressed the fans at the microphone in the middle of the stage and the crowd also heard from Agler, co-owner Stan Kasten and Mayor Eric Garcetti, among others. Tolliver filmed the whole thing with a camera mounted on a selfie stick. Ogwumike and guard Essence Carson took selfies with the crowd. 

The players offered different messages, but all circled back to thanking each other, the organization and the fans for support throughout their championship run. 

“I think the best part of this,” said guard Ana Dabovic, turning to look at her teammates, “is that we have more little girls playing basketball.”


She was right. While the Sparks players walked onto the stage one by one, two young girls played two young boys in an impromptu game on a nearby street. One of the girls backed a boy into the paint, jumped into the air and scored on a hook shot. All of them ran toward the hoop to get the ball, but then something else caught their attention.

“Here comes Candace Parker!” one of the event’s hosts yelled. “And she has a very special guest with her!”

The four kids let the ball bounce toward the street and then ran to a break in the crowd to see Parker. The WNBA Finals’ most valuable player danced onto the stage with the championship trophy in her hand. She walked it to the front of the stage, kissed it and placed it between the two won by the Sparks in 2001 and 2002. 

At that, the crowd went crazy once again. 

“It’s nice to have the trophy back in L.A.,” Parker noted later. “Where it belongs.”

Sparks celebrate with fans at LA Live.  VIdeo by Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Twitter: @dougherty_jesse


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