Former Lady Vols Candace Parker, Diamond DeShields and Tonya Edwards brought home the 2021 WNBA Championship Sunday, as the Chicago Sky defeated the Phoenix Mercury 80-74 in game four.
Parker played for the Lady Vols from 2004 to 2008 under Pat Summit. The win Sunday marks her second WNBA Title and her first with the Sky.
Parker left the Los Angeles Sparks after 13 seasons to play for her hometown Chicago.
"It was amazing to just hug my dad and my mom and my family," Parker said. "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."
Parker posted 16 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists in 35 minutes of play for the Sky.
DeShields who played at Tennessee from 2014 to 2017, put up 2 points in 10 minutes of play.
Edwards played for Tennessee from 1986 to 1990. She had a brief WNBA career in the early 2000s and then went on to coach. Edwards coached Parker in Los Angeles from 2016-2018 and joined the Sky this season as an assistant coach.
The Sky’s come from behind victory was something the team was accustomed to, so when the Sky looked at a double-digit deficit, they were ready.
"Everything that this team went through the entire year prepared us for this," Parker said. "We were down nine, we were down 11. We just got to stay with it, and that's what we've done all season. I am so proud of this group, with our fight, next man up mentality.”
Parker left the Sparks after last season and was able to help bring Chicago its first championship in franchise history.
Playing in a packed Wintrust Arena in Chicago surrounded by hometown fans and people she loves meant everything to Parker.
"It feels amazing,” Parker said. “My high school coach is here. I know Pat’s watching. I mean, we got the whole city here and this is amazing how Chicago supports. I mean, we're champions for life now.”
Sunday’s game was emotional and intense. Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi was hit with a technical foul early in the game. The Sky’s Kahleah Copper was given one shortly after.
A paradox of emotions was on display Sunday. The Sky were flying high after their first championship, and the Mercury were full of anger coming up short of their fourth title in team history.
It was reported by the Associated Press that the door to Phoenix’s locker room had been broken. Phoenix declined to come to the postgame press conference.
Sky coach James Wade credited the emotion of his team and the crowd to be the guiding force in Sunday’s win.
“We stayed together,” Wade said. “It was a microcosm of our season, where you go down and you keep pushing. By the end of it, the crowd took over, our players stayed together and you started to see who we were. I never doubted for a minute that we were going to win that game.”
The Sky’s championship is Wade’s first championship of his career after three season of being the head coach for Chicago.