Moments later, as she went through warmups, she sang along with Jay-Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U” as it played over the arena speakers. The lyrics couldn’t be more appropriate.
I’m a hustler, baby
I just want you to know
It ain’t where I been
But where I’m ’bout to go
Parker came home in the offseason for one reason — to bring the Chicago Sky its first WNBA title. She finished the job Sunday afternoon as the Sky rallied from a 11-point fourth-quarter deficit by scoring 15 of the final 17 points for an 80-74 victory over the Phoenix Mercury.
Parker, ball in hand, sprinted to the corner to hug family and friends with tears in her eyes. Tears steamed down Allie Quigley’s face as “We are the Champions” blared over the speakers. The No. 6 Sky is the lowest seed to win the title since the WNBA changed its format in 2016.
“It’s crazy,” Parker said. “I had flashbacks from high school when I first realized we won the state championship, and it was kind of like similar. . . . It was amazing to just hug my dad and my mom and my family. It was just an amazing feeling to be from here and see so many people in the stands that have been supporting you since you started.
“I sent Allie a picture this morning of us when we were in high school, and it was like, ‘Man, not bad for two suburban kids, right, playing in the WNBA Finals together?’ So I think it’s just a moment where you just have to really take it in.”
The Sky trailed 65-54 after Phoenix scored the first basket of the fourth quarter but mounted a furious rally, sparked by back-to-back three-pointers from Quigley, to cut its deficit to 65-60. The Mercury seemed to have an answer every time — until a Quigley jumper made it 72-67 and started an 11-0 run. Finals MVP Kahleah Copper finished a fast-break layup, and the crowd — already on its feet — erupted. All other sounds were drowned out as Parker made a three to tie the score at 72 with 1:57 remaining.
Then it was Stephanie Dolson’s turn. She hit a cutting layup off a beautiful pass from Courtney Vandersloot before she turned and let loose a scream as her team took a 74-72 lead. Moments later, Dolson hit another layup. Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi made a pair of free throws to cut the Mercury’s deficit to 76-74 with 42.3 seconds remaining, but Vandersloot made a turnaround jumper and then iced the win with a pair of free throws with 10.4 seconds to go.
“We stayed together,” Sky Coach James Wade said. “I guess it was a microcosm of our season where you go down, you go down, and you keep pushing, all right. Crowd was quiet, but they were in it, and they were trying to give us energy, trying to give us energy, and any little thing we did they gave us more energy and gave us more energy, and we fed off of it, but we stayed together. By the end of it, once we made one basket, two baskets, the crowd took over. Our players stayed together, and they kept going, and you started to see who we were. It was a great moment because I never doubted for a minute that we were going to win that game.”
Dolson and Copper were part of the trade before the 2017 season that sent Elena Delle Donne to the Washington Mystics. Now both teams have a championship; the Mystics claimed their first in 2019.
“The playoffs started, [and] we gave ourselves a clean slate,” Copper said. “We totally forgot about the regular season, didn’t care about seeding. We knew we just needed to treat every single game like a single-elimination game, and I was glad we got to play those single-elimination games and feel that pressure because once we got to a series, we already knew what it takes. I’m so proud of this team on how we had a short-term memory on forgetting the regular season . . . and coming into the playoffs and completely killing.”
Chicago’s Chance the Rapper sat courtside in both games and leaped out of his seat as the Sky cut into its deficit. He said he plans to go with the team to get a Sky tattoo.
“It was insane — the ground was shaking,” he said of the crowd. “[Chicago] hasn’t won no chips in a while, and the Chicago Sky was poised to be the WNBA champions! I just like seeing greatness. Shout out to Kah Copper. Shout out to the girls. . . . The Sky is here to stay. This is the beginning of a dynasty!”
Quigley scored a team-high 26 points. Parker finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four steals. Vandersloot had 10 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds; her assist total was the second highest in WNBA Finals history.
Brittney Griner had 28 points for Phoenix, which took Game 2 at home but dropped both matchups in Chicago. Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 16 points apiece; the Mercury players did not attend their postgame news conference.
“We had some really good looks,” Coach Sandy Brondello said. “Diana had really good looks. We just missed them, which is unfortunate. . . . It wasn’t our night.”
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