Welcome to our Decade of Basketball series, reminiscing about the greatest moments in the sport in the 2010s. Through video, we will relive the times from the last 10 years that bring goosebumps to the arms of those who witnessed them. Let’s celebrate the last decade of basketball and look forward to the next one we’re about to experience.
2016 WNBA Finals Game 5
In the 2010s, the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks combined for five titles and eight WNBA Finals appearances and forged one of the league’s most heated rivalries. They met five times in the playoffs through the course of the decade, but none were as intense as the 2016 and 2017 engagements: both for the ultimate prize.
In the first championship matchup, the 2016 WNBA Finals were knotted at 2-2, requiring a Game 5. To the delight of neutral fans, the crown was determined in the final seconds.
LA’s Candace Parker made a layup with 19.7 ticks remaining in the game to put her team up, 75-74. A Minnesota timeout and a few game-clock seconds later, Maya Moore drilled a jumper to give the Lynx the one-point advantage. With both teams out of timeouts, there was nothing either coach could do but watch the last 15.7 seconds of the game unfold in front of them.
The Sparks inbounded the ball to Chelsea Gray, who went coast to coast and missed a fadeaway jumper off the front of the iron. But Nneka Ogwumike had run the floor and nabbed the board with 6 seconds left. Her first attempt was sent back to her, but as she fell backwards, she heaved a prayer toward the cylinder. It was answered, the Los Angeles took a 77-76 lead with 3.1 seconds to go.
Ogwunike’s heroics would be the difference in the game, series and 2016 WNBA Finals, the franchise’s third in its history. That game, and its ending in particular, are some of the best the WNBA offered in the last decade of basketball.