The Chicago Sky Secure the WNBA Championship

The Chicago Sky capped off an improbable run to the WNBA Finals and Candace Parker’s return home with a championship trophy and hopes of returning to that same point again next season.

Parker+won+the+second+trophy+of+her+WNBA+career%2C+this+one+even+more+special+coming+in+her+hometown.+%28Courtesy+of+Twitter%29

Parker won the second trophy of her WNBA career, this one even more special coming in her hometown. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Gigi Speer, Staff Writer

Heading into Sunday night’s game at Wintrust Arena, the Chicago Sky had won two games in the 2021 WNBA Finals and had never won a championship in franchise history. 

After the game, as both gold streamers and tears fell, the squad hoisted the championship trophy for the first time, thanks to immense offensive output, tremendous defense and a little help from the basketball gods.

The Sky led the series 2–1 and were one win away from a historic championship run. The fifth-seeded Phoenix Mercury had outscored them in each of the first three quarters that night. With 3:16 left to go in the third quarter, the Mercury held a 59–45 lead, yet the Sky turned the game around and went on a 35–15 run to secure the series-clinching win 80–74.

This win came after they took game one 91–77, lost Game two 86–91 and won game three 86–50. They finished sixth in the regular season, beat the Dallas Wings in a single elimination game and worked their way through the Minnesota Lynx and Connecticut Sun to finally set up a duel against Phoenix. 

Brittney Griner scored a team-high 28 points for the Mercury, followed by Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith’s 16 each. The three-time WNBA champ Taurasi noted, “We’ve been so good at the end of games that we thought we were gonna pull it out, because that’s just what we do.” They scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime in their only win of this series, where they outscored Chicago 12 to seven and clinched the win.

Yet, the story of the fourth quarter in Game four was quite different, with Taurasi noting that at one point, all five players on the floor missed a layup.

Those misses came back to haunt them in the end, and things started to change with a Candace Parker three to tie it at 72 with 1:57 left in the game. Then, two buckets by Stephanie Dolson and a trip to the free throw line by Courtney Vandersloot made the Sky champions.

Parker stands as the biggest storyline of these Finals, since she came back to her hometown after leaving the Los Angeles Sparks in February. She had previously won a championship with the Sparks in 2016, but during free agency, became determined to bring a ring back to where she grew up. 

She posted a double-double on Sunday with 16 points and 13 rebounds and managed to showcase her leadership skills and playoff experience. Parker shined in the playoffs and led the team in steals and blocks despite b limited to 23 games in the regular season due to persistent ankle injuries,

However, teammate Kahleah Copper secured the Finals MVP trophy after averaging 17 points and 5.5 rebounds in the series. Copper came alive in the 2020 “Wubble” season after not receiving much playing time her first four years, and built on it again this season.

Another major contributor was sharpshooter Allie Quigley, who led the team in plus/minus and scored a team-high 26 points and finished as the Sky’s leading scorer of the series, averaging 18. 

Courtney Vandersloot also added 10 points and 15 assists in the final game and held the highest offensive rating in the series overall.

Sky Head Coach James Wade told Chicago fans to get used to celebrating at the parade on Tuesday: “Remember the seat you are sitting in right now,” Wade said, “because we are going to make sure you are sitting in the same one next year.”