The Chicago Sky were a .500 team in the regular season, but as anyone will say: those records get thrown out in the playoffs.
That’s especially true given the WNBA’s playoff format, which has two single-elimination rounds before the semifinals. Both the Sky and Mercury actually had to survive two single-elimination games just to make the semis, so it’s been a wild ride for both teams and fanbases.
The Sky entered today with a 2-1 series lead, and they took full advantage of their chance to end the series today. Candace Parker grew up in the Chicago area, but her role has been much more than inspirational leader. Today she put the Sky on her shoulders, going for 16 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and a block. Just an insane performance, which included a huge three late in the fourth quarter.
CANDACE CLUTCH PARKER 🥶
📺 ESPN pic.twitter.com/Dv6dqpI1nV
— WNBA (@WNBA) October 17, 2021
The Mercury didn’t go away, as you’d expect from a team led by Diana Taurasi, but the Sky just made the plays they needed to down the stretch. That included this impossibly clutch bucket from Courtney Vandersloot to make it a two-possession lead late:
Sloot ball fake pic.twitter.com/EUbAmC1YyO
— Internet #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) October 17, 2021
The Mercury didn’t give up, but they couldn’t get anything to fall down the stretch. In the end, Parker was in tears on the court realizing that she was just seconds away from her second WNBA title.
Candace Parker in tears with seconds remaining, then grabs the rebound and dribbles out the clock for her hometown Chicago Sky's first ever championship. pic.twitter.com/nYROD3LTux
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) October 17, 2021
Kahleah Copper earned Finals MVP honors, deservedly after a run of strong performances that put the Sky in position to take the title today. But Parker returning home and helping the Sky win their first title is just an amazing story, and today’s final moments were a lovely scene.