Candace Parker leads Chicago Sky to franchise’s first WNBA championship

Spirits are sky-high in the Windy City after the Chicago Sky claimed the franchise’s first WNBA championship Sunday, thanks in large part to the efforts of hometown hero Candace Parker.

The Sky rallied to beat the Phoenix Mercury 80-74 in a heart-pounding Game 4, overturning an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.

Parker, a product of Naperville, Illinois, poured in 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to notch a double-double while adding five assists to her tally. Shooting guard Allie Quigley led the Sky with 26 points, and point guard Courtney Vandersloot recorded a double-double of her own with 10 points and 15 assists.

Kahleah Copper, who was named the series MVP, added 10 points in the decisive game.

Trailing 63-54, the Sky were on the ropes heading into the game’s final quarter. However, they buckled down on defense to hold Phoenix to 11 fourth-quarter points while exploding for 26 of their own to claim the championship.

Phoenix’s dynamic trio of Brittney Griner (game-high 28 points, seven rebounds), Diana Taurasi (16 points, two rebounds) and Skylar Diggins-Smith (16 points, eight assists) challenged the Sky, but ultimately Chicago was able to prevail.

Given that the championship-sealing win — a first for the Sky — took place at home, the scenes were unforgettable with 10,378 in attendance at Wintrust Arena. 

It was especially poignant for Parker, who grew up in Illinois after moving there as a 2-year-old. She went to high school at Naperville Central before attending Tennessee from 2004 to 2008.

Parker spent the first 13 seasons of her WNBA career with the Los Angeles Sparks after being drafted No. 1 overall in the 2008 WNBA Draft.

Then, prior to this season, she returned home to play for the Sky on a two-year deal. As the celebration commenced after the final buzzer, Parker provided an iconic image with an embrace of her daughter, Lailaa.

Here is what an overjoyed Parker had to say about the impact of Sunday’s accomplishment. 

“It feels amazing. I mean, my high school coach is here,” Parker told ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “I know Pat’s [Summitt] watching. I mean, I got the whole city here. We got the whole city here. … We are champions for life now.”

Here is how social media reacted to the Sky’s triumph and Parker’s bringing a championship home to Chicago:

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.

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