CHICAGO, IL – When Candace Parker announced she was signing with the Chicago Sky in February 2021, Sky General Manager & Head Coach James Wade described the signing as “an incredible story of a homecoming between a team striving to become a championship organization and one of the best players in basketball.”
Nine months later, the Naperville, Illinois native will now be forever remembered as the key player who helped write the story of the 2021 Chicago Sky, a team that secured its first WNBA title in franchise history as the Sky defeated the Phoenix Mercury in four games in the 2021 WNBA Finals.
Led by Wade, the road for the Chicago Sky celebrating on its home court and in front of a sellout crowd at Wintrust Arena is one of the most impressive journeys in recent WNBA history.
After battling injuries during the regular season, the Chicago Sky finished with a 16-16 overall record and entered the 2021 WNBA Playoffs as the No. 6 seed. During the regular season, the Sky was guided by career-years from forward Kahleah Copper and Courtney Vandersloot. Chicago’s first and fifth-leading scorers from the regular season, respectively, the pair were the only Sky players to start and play in all 32 regular season contests. Alongside Copper’s 14.4 points per game, Vandersloot was honored as the WNBA assists leader for the fifth consecutive season and averaged 8.6 assists per game.
To start the 2021 WNBA Playoffs, Chicago defeated the Dallas Wings in a single-elimination game and the Minnesota Lynx in the second round, also a single-elimination game. Then, the Sky defeated the No. 1 seed Connecticut Sun in four games as part of the 2021 WNBA Semifinals to advance to the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2014.
In Game 1 of the 2021 WNBA Finals, the Chicago Sky defeated the No. 5 seed Phoenix Mercury 91-77 and were led by 21 points from Copper. In Game 2, the Sky dropped an overtime thriller to the Mercury. The Sky dominated in Game 3 and defeated the Mercury by 36 points (80-56), good for the largest margin of victory in WNBA Finals history in front of a sellout crowd at Wintrust Arena. In Game 4, Sky guard Allie Quigley’s 26 points were key as the Sky rallied from a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to secure the franchise’s first title. Copper was also named the 2021 WNBA Finals MVP.
During the postgame press conference, Parker, Quigley, Vandersloot and Copper all spoke to the team’s identity in the regular season and what clicked during the Playoffs.
“A seven-game win streak, a seven-game losing streak,” Quigley said. “We just didn’t know who we were. I feel like we were frustrated with ourselves, with each other and it was because we didn’t know who we were.
“I think, thank God, first game of the Playoffs in Dallas, we found who we were, and it was by the leadership of our coaches and each other just really buying into our defense and this new way that we all wanted to play, and we believed in.”