The Los Angeles Sparks return home to square off against the Phoenix Mercury, one of the longest standing matchups in WNBA history. The Mercury and Sparks have a deep-seated history as two of the original WNBA franchises dating all the way back to 1997. Ahead of the match-up, let’s take a look back at the history between the storied franchises.
- Los Angeles owns the franchise’s All-Time head-to-head record 54-34, LA has a win percentage of 61.4 against Phoenix.
- The Sparks lead the WNBA in wins, with the Mercury close behind. Prior to the 2021 season, the Sparks had 480 total wins and the Mercury had 406.
- The teams have won a combined six WNBA Titles in their 25-year histories.
- Los Angeles Sparks:
- Lisa Leslie: She joined the Sparks franchise in the 1997 inaugural season and went on to win two WNBA Titles (2001, 2002), won two WNBA Most Valuable Player Awards (2001, 2004, 2006), and helped establish the footprint for modern day basketball.
- Nneka Ogwumike: The Sparks drafted Ogwumike first overall in 2012, and Nneka lived up to the hype, becoming the 2016 WNBA MVP, while becoming a perennial WNBA All-Star.
- Candace Parker: The first ever player to win the MVP and Rookie Of The Year award in the same season. Parker also helped lead the Sparks to the 2016 Championship team where she won Finals MVP.
- Alana Beard: Named to back-to-back WNBA Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2016 and 2017 and played an integral role on the Sparks’ 2016 Championship team.
- Phoenix Mercury:
- Diana Taurasi: The Mercury drafted her No. 1 overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft. Taurasi has won three WNBA titles (2007, 2009, 2014), four Olympic Gold Medals (2004, ‘08, ‘12, ‘16), and other accolades as a member of the Mercury. She is also currently the all-time leading scorer in WNBA History.
- Brittney Griner: The Mercury drafted Griner No. 1 overall in 2013. The center has dominated the league ever since, helping the Mercury to their third title in 2014, becoming a perennial league wide star, and setting a single-game record with 11 blocks in a game on June 29, 2014 against the Tulsa Shock.
- DeWanna Bonner: She played for the Mercury from 2009-19, where she won three consecutive Sixth Man Of The Year Awards (2009-11). Bonner now plays for the Connecticut Sun.
- Penny Taylor: Played on all three Mercury championship teams, had her jersey No. 13 retired by the Mercury on July 23, 2017, and is now an assistant coach for the Mercury.
- Former Sparks, Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker were the first two players to dunk a ball in a WNBA game. Mercury center Brittney Griner became the first woman to dunk twice in a WNBA game.
- Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker, Lisa Leslie, Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins-Smith, and Nneka Ogwumike have all played on Olympic and World Championship teams for USA Basketball.
- Two-time WNBA Champion Cappie Pondexter played for the Mercury from 2006-09, and played for the Sparks in 2018.
- 2013 Western Conference Semifinals (Sept. 2013): The Mercury narrowly defeated the Sparks 78-77 to win the three-game series 2-1 in a highly competitive second round series mirroring that of so many other intense matchups between the two franchises.
- First round of the Playoffs (August 2014): The Mercury and Sparks met in the opening round of the postseason, the Mercury went on to defeat the Sparks and win the 2014 WNBA Title.
- Mercury @ Sparks (June 1, 2017): Diana Taurasi becomes the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing former Spark Tina Thompson who played for the team at the tail end of her historic career.
- Opening Day of the 2020 Season (July 25, 2020): After arriving in the WNBA Bubble in Bradenton, FL to play the historic 2020 WNBA Season, the Sparks played against the Mercury in their first game in the Bubble. The Sparks won 99-76. Per ESPN, The Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury on ABC became the league’s most-watched opener on the ESPN family of networks since 2012, delivering an average 539,000 viewers.
- Championships (Three’s the Magic Number):
- The Sparks won the 2001, 2002, and 2016 WNBA Titles
- The Mercury won the 2007, 2009, and 2014 WNBA Titles
- Most Valuable Players:
- Sparks: Lisa Leslie (2001, 2004, 2006), Candace Parker (2008, 2013), Nneka Ogwumike (2016)
- Mercury: Diana Taurasi (2009)
- Defensive Players of the Year:
- Sparks: Alana Beard (2017, 2018), Candace Parker (2020)
- Mercury: Brittney Griner (2014, 2015)
These storied franchises have competed for the top spots in the Western Conference for the last 25 years, and their histories will continue Wednesday, June 16 when the Sparks host the Mercury at home. The game is set to tip off at 7:30 PM PT.