For the first time in franchise history, the Chicago Sky are WNBA champions.
It was an emotional afternoon in the Wintrust on Sunday as the Sky overcame the Phoenix Mercury in their home arena for a nail-biting 80-74 finish to win game four.
The Mercury had been leading for most of the game until the final quarter, and it was a testament to the incredibly smart game of the Sky, led by coach James Wade, that they were able to keep their game cool and consistent, quickly making up the deficit and then some.
Candace Parker, having returned to Chicago this year to help lead the Sky to the playoffs, has been widely celebrated as a hometown hero. Her out teammate Allie Quigley, who is also from the Chicago suburbs and who makes up one half of the city’s most powerful sports power couple — the VanderQuigs — must also be given her due.
The pair were more vital pieces of the team’s offense this year more than ever, and Courtney Vandersloot’s 11 year tenure with the Sky is the longest of any player currently on the roster. Sloot’s dedication has paid off with a historic postseason, setting a league-record for postseason assists with 102, among countless other accolades.
“We just, together, made a commitment to this team and to this franchise,” Vandersloot said, gesturing towards Candace Parker and Finals MVP Kahleah Copper in the press conference following the game. “Because we did get a taste early, what it felt like to be in the finals – and then we got our asses kicked. But we did get that taste, and we knew that if we got the right people – exhibit A and B.
“That we could be in this moment and it could be special here, you know? We didn’t wanna go seeking that. We didn’t wanna go seeking this feeling. We wanted to do it here. And we just knew that we had what it takes; we just needed a few more pieces and people to believe, and that’s exactly what we got.”
Stefanie Dolson was another one of those key pieces that brought the Sky to victory in game four, and who can now add a WNBA championship ring to her whirlwind 2021 successes following a gold medal performance in the 3x3 basketball at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
Dolson was one of the players, including rival Phoenix star Brittney Griner, who arrived at the arena on Sunday wearing a WNBA-orange hoodie emblazoned with the phrase ‘ABORTION IS HEALTHCARE,’ showing solidarity with the WNBPA’s campaign for reproductive rights for all.
Stefanie Dolson came to play today pic.twitter.com/nkUPKeSyM0— Lauren Comitor (@laurencomitor) October 17, 2021
On the Phoenix side, many fans were hoping to see Diana Taurasi, now 39 years old, take the opportunity this year to cement her GOAT status with yet another WNBA title before hanging up her sneakers.
Following last month’s emotional jersey swap with Sue Bird after the Seattle Storm were eliminated from the playoffs, Taurasi, who has been playing through injury throughout the postseason, has expressed that she hopes to continue playing at least through the 2022 season, although her health will play a role in what she ultimately decides is best for her.
We wish her the best in taking care of her body and hope to see her leading the Phoenix powerhouse back to championship form for the WNBA’s 26th season.