The winningest basketball team in town wears purple and gold, but it’s not the Lakers.
No, we’re talking about the Los Angeles Sparks, the women’s professional hoops team that also plays its games at Staples Center.
The Sparks have started the 2016 campaign with a 10-0 mark – a franchise record and a major turnaround from a year ago when the team lost its first seven games.
One big reason for the reversal of fortunes is the return of two-time league MVP Candace Parker. She sat out the first half of last season after playing oversees, and the Sparks never got on track. But Parker may not even be the most valuable member of the Sparks this year. ESPN.com writer Mechelle Voepel says that title might go Nneka Ogwumike, who’s name means “Mother Supreme” in the Nigerian language Igbo.
“She’s a player out of Stanford, really just one of the bright lights in the WNBA. A fantastic personality. If you talk to anybody with the Sparks, the person who’ll they say is the glue of the team, because she has such an amazing ability to just make everybody around her feel better, it’s Nneka Ogwumike,” Voepel says. “She brings something more than just what she produces on the floor, and that’s the personality to keep that team unified.”
The Sparks are gunning for the franchise’s third championship in what is the 20th season of the WNBA. That’s not a lot compared to some men’s professional leagues, but it’s a mark of longevity that not too many other women’s pro leagues have reached. Women’s hoops fans are hoping that the success of the Sparks will help create a higher profile for the WNBA this year and beyond.