Rooted in each letter of the word team, the L.A. Sparks still have that energy without their city of stars.
No Ogwumike sister act.
No Jasmine Walker.
No Maria Vadeeva on that overseas commit.
No Te’a Cooper on suspension.
This is a team who also lost one of their icons like Lisa Leslie this offseason as Candace Parker went home to Chicago to touch the Sky like Kanye. Not to mention one of their best hands to Vegas in Aces “Point Gawd”, Chelsea Gray.
But it’s nothing but clear skies in Los Angeles. Even if their reigning champion purple and gold brotherhood got knocked off their Kings throne by a setting Sun.
You could almost call this a revenge game as the Los Angeles Sparks hosted the WNBA’s Phoenix team and rose above the Mercury that was without GOAT Diana Taurasi.
Right now in its 25th anniversary this league of its own looks as injury prone as the NBA. What did you expect from this COVID sick note time that saw both associations rebounding from Florida’s bubble and suiting up for a new season in their new Nike threads real quick?
After carrying the torch for last years social justice mission and with the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon what more could you want from this great league that is beat up but still banging?
Without Los Angeles leader Nneka Ogwumike someone or something had to keep the flame lit against the Phoenix Mercury, and that something was actually the whole team itself. Comprised of tenacious talent and inspired individuals.
Not to mention, super clutch Erica Wheeler who gave the Mercury that to pay, recording her first career double/double and the Sparks first home win at Staples since June 5th.
Screaming as she hit a big bucket over big Brittney Griner (who had a huge night with her own double/double of 30 points and 20 rebounds), Wheeler kept going until the wheels fell off and the Sparks plugged a 85-80 victory.
18 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds and a kiss of death was all she wrote as Erica milestoned at a career 1500 points.
But there was more Spark than that.
Swedish sensation and former Liberty star Amanda Zahui B. was draining threes like she was thirsty. Clapping for downtown looks down the stretch like the star she is in La La Land and fist pumping in celebration when bucket getters like Kristi Toliver (who led everyone after the first frame with 8 to get it going) hit instead like the true teammate she is.
Unselfishness down the line and through the wire is the name of the game for clutch legend Derek Fisher’s Sparks this season. From the look on his face as the buzzer he is more than familiar with blared you can tell he loves to see it from his latest Los Angeles team.
As does team sponsor with her cosmetics company and day one fan, star actress Vivica A. Fox.
This team loves to go fish for Hollywood moments like Brittney Sykes who had four of the games last six points. Hitting from the elbow like players in the paint, again and again. With a picture perfect pair of shots that like her signature steals (she has to start yelling “SYKE” when she swipes them) and chase down blocks were a thing of basketball beauty for the defensive maestro.
Even stars like Skylar Diggins-Smith (15 points and 10 rebounds) and Canadian Kia Nurse couldn’t nurse the Mercury to rise again. Not when five Sparks scored ten or more (Wheeler 18, Toliver 17, Zahui B. 15, Sykes 14, and Holmes, 10).
The 5-5 Los Angeles Sparks showed the 5 and 7 Phoenix Mercury it was all about teamwork.
And Erica Wheeler’s killer shot dagger drove that home.
Just wait until this Spark has a full fuse like the palm tree logo on their new jersey above their purple hearts.
Then you better run for cover, because they’re about to BLOW!