McBride scored a team-high 24 points, including the game-winning 3-point play on a reverse layup with 2.1 seconds remaining, to lead the Lynx to their first victory of the season. After starting 0-4 and going through multiple personnel moves in part due to injuries, the Lynx beat the Sparks 87-84 on Tuesday night.
McBride helped Fenerbaçhe Safiport win the Turkish League title on Sunday and then hopped on a flight for Los Angeles.
"The whole ride here, I'm thinking about how grateful I am to do what I do," McBride said. "Being a professional athlete, it's only going to last so long. So you have to grind, but the chemistry, how much we grew just tonight, is worth it.
"I understand what this Lynx culture is about. That's what makes me want to show up and give whatever I can. As exhausted as I am, I'm super grateful I showed up for my team. We needed that. There's no way I could have been sitting on that sideline today."
Instead, she played nearly 38 minutes. McBride, a 5-foot-10 guard who was the No. 3 overall pick out of Notre Dame in 2014, was the Lynx's third-leading scorer in 2021. That was her first season in Minnesota, leaving Las Vegas to sign as a free agent.
Napheesa Collier, last season's scoring leader for Minnesota, is out indefinitely on pregnancy leave, and high-profile signings Angel McCoughtry and Odyssey Sims are no longer with the team. Thus, the Lynx had another rough beginning to the season. Last year, they also started 0-4, but then made the playoffs.
Coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said that while the many personnel moves the Lynx have had to make already "weren't ideal," she felt things would work themselves out -- especially once McBride returned.
With it being star center Sylvia Fowles' last WNBA season, the Lynx want to quickly get back on the winning track -- and they took their first step toward that Tuesday. Fowles had 20 points and 12 rebounds, while guard Moriah Jefferson, who joined the Lynx last week after being waived by Dallas, had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
"We knew what our challenges were, and it was necessary for us to respond to some of those challenges so we could have some stability for the long run," Reeve said. "You've seen Kayla's impact in terms of pace of play, that you've got to guard her. That just gave us another dimension.
"I knew she would be in shape because she was coming off playing [overseas]. I don't necessarily like playing her that many minutes, but she was that good. She's a captain of this team and wants her play to be contagious. It was all that and then some."