The Los Angeles Sparks got back in the win column on Friday night by beating the Dallas Wings, 97-89, behind 21 points each from Nneka Ogwumike and Liz Cambage. With that result, the Sparks made history by becoming the first WNBA team to reach 500 wins.
"It's a part of history, you know?" Ogwumike said. "As a professional, these are the only colors I've ever worn. These are the only colors I plan on wearing. I just love being part of such a rich legacy. We're an original franchise.
"There's so much culture with our team and there's so much success. There's ups and downs that I've experienced with this team. I've played with legends that have their jerseys hanging up. I'm just glad to have been a part of another milestone moment with the Sparks."
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The Sparks were one of the league's founding franchises back in 1997, and along with the New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury are one of just three of those teams to still exist. In fact, the Sparks played the Liberty in the first-ever WNBA game, though they did not get the win on that occasion. The Sparks' first franchise win came in their third game when they beat the Charlotte Sting 74-54 behind 19 points from Lisa Leslie.
In the ensuing 25 years, the Sparks have been one of the league's most successful franchises. They have won three championships (2001, 2002 and 2016), which is tied for the second most all time, have a .604 winning percentage in the regular season and missed the playoffs just five times.
One of those occasions was last season, however, and the Spark responded with a number of high-profile moves -- signing Liz Cambage, trading for Chennedy Carter -- in the winter to try and ensure they got back in the postseason picture. They may still do so, as they sit just percentage points out of eighth place, but the season has not gone to plan.
Derek Fisher was fired as head coach and GM on June 7 after a 5-7 start, they have the second-worst defense in the league (105.2 points per 100 possessions allowed) and even after Friday's win they remain well under .500 at 8-11. All told it's fairly disappointing given the amount of talent on the roster.
Perhaps the historic win over the Wings will be the spark that can help them turn their season around.