Chicago rallies past Phoenix to win first WNBA crown; Sky's Kahleah Copper named MVP

CHICAGO -- Candace Parker ran to the sidelines to hug her family. She was already crying. A packed Wintrust Arena roared "We Are Champions" in just minutes. The Chicago Sky won the WNBA title for the first time. Two local heroes helped the Sky win the precious hardware by winning Game 4 against Phoenix 80-74.
Parker was raised in suburban Naperville, Illinois. She played at Tennessee, where she won two NCAA championships and was then the No. Parker, who was raised in suburban Naperville, Illinois, was a star at Tennessee where she won two NCAA titles and then was the No. 1 draft pick. She also became MVP and Rookie-of-the Year. She was not able to win her first WNBA title in 2008 with the Sparks until 2016.

Parker scored 16 points, had 13 rebounds, and had five assists Sunday. Allie Quigley, a DePaul graduate from Joliet, Illinois, was the Sky's leading scorer with 26 points. She also made five 3-pointers.

Parker stated, "Everything this team did the whole year prepared us for it." We were down nine and down eleven. We had to stick with it all season. This group is so impressive, especially with their fight, next-man up mentality.

"My high school coach is there... I mean, we got the entire city here and it is amazing how Chicago supports. We're now champions for the future.

The Sky was left trailing for much of Sunday's game and had to make this difficult decision. They were also worried about having to travel to Phoenix for Game 5, if they lose. The Sky was down 70-65 with 5:25 remaining. With the Sky trailing by 70, the Sky's theme song "Rocky" was heard over the loudspeaker in Wintrust Arena. This is a Philadelphia song. Kahleah Copper, a proud North Philly native was awarded the WNBA Finals MVP. Her fight spirit was a great example of what the Sky did down to the final stretch to win: Everyone contributed.

Parker made a 3-pointer with 1:57 remaining to tie the game 72-72. Courtney Vandersloot, point guard, followed with two more Stefanie Dolson layups.

It was fitting that Vandersloot had the last points at the free-throw line, where he was the Sky's longest-tenured player with 10.4 seconds remaining. Vandersloot ended the game with 10 points and 15 assists.

The Sky, which joined the WNBA in 2006 as an expansion team, won the league's 10th title. It did so during the WNBA’s silver anniversary season. Chicago won despite having a 16-16 regular-season record. At No. The Sky were the lowest seed to win this championship since 2016, when the WNBA changed its playoff format.

The Sky was launched at 5-29 in 2006. They missed the playoffs for seven seasons, but advanced to the postseason in 2013. Sylvia Fowles and rookie of the year Elena Delle Donne were the only ones who made it. Both were No. They were both No. 2 draft picks and helped the Sky to the 2014 WNBA Finals where they were swept away by Phoenix.

Fowles was ready for a move the next season, but she sat out until midseason when her contract expired and was traded to Minnesota. After the 2016 season, Delle Donne insisted on a trade and moved to Washington to be closer her Delaware home.

The February 2017 deal was a win-win situation for both teams. Delle Donne won the title with the Mystics, and Dolson and Copper are now part of the championship team. In fact, Copper was the star of the postseason.

Vandersloot was No. She was the No. 3 draft pick from Gonzaga in 2011, and she said that she was shocked to be selected so high. She's now one of the top point guards in WNBA.

She was the second triple-double in WNBA playoffs history, and she finished this postseason with a record 102 assists. Vandersloot, along with her husband and fellow Sky guard Quigley, won the title in her 11th season.

Quigley spent five years trying to get into the WNBA in her first five year after graduating from DePaul. From 2008 to 2011, she played 41 games with four different franchises, but was not in the league in 2012. She finally joined the Sky in 2013. In seven of her nine seasons, she has scored in the double figures for Chicago.

Quigley stated, "I have never said I don’t have anything if it doesn’t win a championship." But I know what it means to have one. A championship makes you feel elite. It's your legacy that makes you unique."

Vandersloot, Quigley and others sent Parker goodies from Chicagoland's best restaurants during the free-agency period earlier in the year. Parker stated that she was drawn to the Sky because of her hometown in the Windy City and because she loved the Sky's progress and wanted to be part of it.

James Wade of the Sky became the third Black coach in the WNBA to win a title. He follows Michael Cooper, who won the 2002 and 2003 titles with the Los Angeles Sparks, and Corey Gaines, who won the 2009 title with Phoenix. In 2019, he took over the Sky and stated that it was his dream to manage a team like this.

Wade stated that the world can be unfair in how we are represented, looked at, and given the chance to get what we don't have. You must always protect yourself at all costs. These moments are great, and you can be proud of them. But sometimes, I have to pretend that I am here because my life has taught me otherwise.

It means a lot. It's a great feeling to have my son here, and it's even more special that he can see his dad coaching in front of thousands of cheering fans.