Minneapolis, MN — As passionate fans of the game and of the league, we were genuinely excited to witness yet another five-game series between the two best teams in the WNBA, and notably, some of the best athletes in the world.
We have anticipated this winner-take-all rematch because we remember how entertaining and thrilling last year’s Game 5 was, all the way to the closing buzzer. I can still visualize Nneka Ogwumike’s rebound, the failed attempt, and the winning shot as she fell onto the court.
But, who really remembers the minute details on how exactly the Sparks’ clinched the 2016 title? The Minnesota Lynx’ Sylvia Fowles.
And for good reason. Minnesota’s head coach, Cheryl Reeve, didn’t hold back when reminiscing on Fowles’ performance last year. Forthcoming, Reeve stated, “I just watched Game 5 from last year before this game, and I thought, Sylvia Fowles was awful. She was awful in Game 5.”
Fowles, not only the newly crowned 2017 Finals MVP, but the 2017 WNBA Regular Season MVP, allowed a catastrophic pair of unfortunately missed rebounds on October 20th, 2016, in the deciding Game 5 of the WNBA Finals, to haunt her ever since.
“If I didn't do anything else, I just wanted to make it my business to make sure I just go out there and rebound, and that was my downfall last year,” said an elated Fowles. “Like I said, I fell on the court, that haunted me for a long time after Game 5 last year. I just wanted to come in and I wanted to show my presence, and if that was rebounding, then rebounding it was.”
In comparison, Fowles decided to turn a meek pair of failed attempts at a rebound on October 20th, 2016 into her fuel throughout the 2017 WNBA season, her best and most decorated of her professional career.
Following the Lynx celebration tonight, ESPN’s Holly Rowe, curiously asked just what was going through Fowles' mind as she was in the process of setting a Finals record of 20 rebounds.
Fowles instinctively responded without hesitation, “Last year. Game 5”.
She expanded on her quick response, noting that the squad had relinquished two rebounds in the final minute and that they ultimately lost because of rebounding.
Pondering on her Game 5 attitude and “imposing her will” this time around, Fowles commented, “If I didn't do anything else, I just wanted to make it my business to make sure I just go out there and rebound, and that was my downfall last year.”
Fowles rebounded much more than the 20 boards tonight. She rebounded from last year’s loss to inspire many by performing the best season of her career.
Reeve emotionally changed her tune as she spoke of Fowles’ performance tonight.
“[She] was just -- I don't know if she mentioned to you, but she had a calm about her today that -- she had no jitters going into the game because she was confident in knowing what she had to do to be successful, and I'm just so proud of obviously Syl… [and] at the end of the day, there's nothing like seeing the transformation of a player like Sylvia Fowles, and she's the reason why we won a championship.”
Thank you, Sylvia Fowles, for providing hope and demonstrating that you can, in fact, bounce back from adversity to overcome anything through humility, persistence, and hard-work. Revenge is sweet.