Perhaps nobody was haunted more by the way the 2016 Lynx season ended than center Sylvia Fowles.
She was the one who was closest to Nneka Ogwumike as the Los Angeles Sparks star scored the game-winning basket in Game 5 of the Finals.
Wednesday at Williams Arena, Fowles atoned.
“That haunted me for a long time after Game 5 last year,” Fowles said.
In the deciding game this time? Fowles had 17 points, a Finals-record 20 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. This time Ogwumike fouled out trying to guard her.
This time Fowles came away with a memory that will last. The WNBA MVP during the regular season, Fowles was named Finals MVP for the second time, the first coming in the Lynx’s run in 2015. She became the first player since Seattle’s Lauren Jackson in 2010 to win both trophies in the same season.
“It’s more meaningful,” Fowles said of this award. “It says a lot about your character. But it’s more than me. It has to do with your teammates. I surrounded myself with good players and good coaches who were understanding and unselfish and here I am. All my credit goes to my teammates.”
Over the final two games of this series Fowles had 37 rebounds.
“We knew if we did our thing on the glass we’d win,” Rebekkah Brunson said. “We needed every one of those 20. Every one of them.”
Not one, not two ...
Make that five.
Brunson is now the winningest player in WNBA history with five championships to her name.
Brunson, the glue for the Lynx whom the Sparks dared to beat them at points in this Finals, answered the call with some of her best play of the season, including 13 points and rebounds in Game 5. It helped to carry the Lynx to their fourth championship in franchise history.
Brunson was a part of all four of those title-winning teams. She also won a ring with the now-defunct Sacramento Monarchs in 2005.
“I’m just thrilled that she’s now the all-time greatest champion in the history of our league,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “I told her we’re going to start working on the other hand.”
The Monarchs drafted Brunson in the first round in 2004.
One game short
The Sparks also were looking to become the second franchise with four titles. This year, it didn’t work out.
Sparks star Candace Parker had no trouble pointing to the reason why.
“Honestly, rebounding,” she said. “That hurt. … I mean, we’re sad. That’s all I’ve got.”
The Sparks were hurt by foul trouble all game with Ogwumike fouling out, Alana Beard finishing with five fouls and Parker four.
“We have to do a better job in the offseason of trying to figure out how to draw contact,” Parker said.
Water, not champagne
Lindsay Whalen took a big, sweet swig of champagne straight out of the bottle while at the champions podium.
WNBA public relations officials took notice and handed Whalen a bottle of water to quench her thirst instead.
Asked how the champagne tasted, Whalen joked about the tastiness of the drink not reserved for champions.
On to China
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and his wife Becky celebrated with Lynx players and coaches in a champagne-soaked locker room.
By Thursday morning, the Taylors will be headed on his private jet to China to join his Timberwolves for the final game of their two-game China trip in Shanghai.
“I wasn’t going to miss this,” said Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune.