Parker com­pletes re­sume with cham­pi­onship

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Dave Camp­bell AP Sports Writer

For all Can­dace Parker had ac­com­plished on the court, that glow­ing re­sume had one glar­ing omis­sion — a WNBA ti­tle.

The cham­pi­onship she’d been chas­ing with Los An­ge­les since the Sparks made her the first pick in the 2008 draft was all the more spe­cial at the end of a try­ing sea­son.

Nneka Og­wu­mike’s short jumper with 3.1 sec­onds left, off the re­bound of her blocked shot, gave the Sparks a 77-76 vic­tory over the de­fend­ing cham­pion Min­nesota Lynx in the de­cid­ing Game 5 of the WNBA Fi­nals on Thurs­day night for the fran­chise’s first ti­tle in 14 years.

Parker had 28 points and 12 re­bounds to earn MVP hon­ors of the fi­nals and her first pro­fes­sional cham­pi­onship af­ter win­ning two NCAA ti­tles at Ten­nessee un­der coach Pat Sum­mitt, who died this sum­mer.

“I wasn’t up­hold­ing my end of the bar­gain in this se­ries for my team­mates,” Parker said. “I think in years past maybe I was do­ing a lot and maybe I could’ve used a lit­tle help, but this year it was on me. My team­mates were do­ing their part. I had to step up and do mine.”

Parker was left off the U.S. Olympic team this year af­ter help­ing them win a gold medal in the pre­vi­ous two Sum­mer Games. The two-time league MVP was also con­spic­u­ously miss­ing from the All-WNBA teams an­nounced dur­ing the play­offs. She’d pre­vi­ously been picked for the first team four times and the sec­ond team twice.

“She’s been through so much,” Og­wu­mike said. “She’s prob­a­bly the most mis­un­der­stood per­son in the league.

I told her I wanted her to get one.”

Sparks coach Brian Agler started his postgame news con­fer­ence by play­ing a record­ing of the Ten­nessee fight song, “Rocky Top,” from a phone in front of him at the podium in an ode to Sum­mitt. Parker cried as she leaned over to hug her coach.

“I’ve never been around some­body that has been cri­tiqued so hard, and I’ve never been around any­one I’m happy for more than Can­dace,” said Agler, adding:

“She stayed on the high road, fought through ev­ery­thing, stayed with it, was per­sis­tent.”

Parker said she heard Sum­mitt’s voice in her head, re­call­ing the time­worn ad­vice to fo­cus on de­fense and re­bound­ing.

“You can’t con­trol if shots go in or shots don’t, but what you can con­trol is de­fense and re­bound­ing,” Parker said.

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