Candace Parker pays fond tribute to Pat Summitt after winning WNBA title

(David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
WP

Candace Parker won her first career professional title Thursday night as her Los Angeles Sparks beat the Minnesota Lynx in Game 5 of the WNBA Finals.

The 30-year-old Parker, drafted first overall by the Sparks in 2008, had accomplished just about everything else in her storied career, and when she added a championship to the list, she wasted no time paying tribute to a late mentor.

In a postgame interview with ESPN's Holly Rowe, Parker — overcome with emotion — said only, “This is for Pat. … This is for Pat,” before walking off and embracing a member of the staff.

“Pat” would be Pat Summitt, the legendary Tennessee coach who died this past June. She was also Parker's coach in Knoxville from 2005-2008, and the duo won two championships together.

It was a fitting cap to a great night for Parker, who scored 28 points in the clincher, won Finals MVP honors and shared a moment with Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson, now a member of the Sparks' ownership group:

The decisive Game 5 had a thrilling finish, with the Sparks blowing an eight-point lead in the final minutes, then benefiting from a controversial basket before ultimately scoring the winner with 3.1 seconds remaining in a 77-76 victory.