Candace Parker Leading Sky In Storybook Sequel Season


With Candace Parker captaining Chicago, the championship sky appears unobstructed. Yet, there are always clouds beyond the horizon in a repeat effort.

Everybody loves a good homecoming, and Parker joining the Chicago Sky was no different. But what simply began as a heartwarming story transformed into a championship narrative.

No longer was the script simply about the six-time All-Star, two-time league MVP, and two-time Olympic gold medalist coming home. It evolved into a tale about a legend leading her home franchise to its first-ever championship — an incredible feat for the underdog team. One season later, Parker is poised to help make the follow-up season a storybook sequel.

Relishing Her Talent Before Retirement Arrives

In Sunday’s All-Star Game in Chicago, the Naperville native started in the exhibition, shot 5-for-12 from the field, and ended the afternoon with 15 points. They’re good numbers but don’t reflect her struggle and slow start.

At one point, about halfway through the third quarter, Parker simply stared at the basket in annoyance after yet another missed shot, pleading for it to be on her side. It made for a hilarious moment during the scrimmage. But it’s far from the experience she has had with the Sky during the regular season thus far.

From becoming the first player in WNBA to record three triple-doubles (two of which came this season) to being the first player in WNBA to reach 6,000 points, 3,000 rebounds, and 1,500 assists, Parker is having a standout season in year 15. It’s not her best season statistically, but that doesn’t matter. She continues to prove that she can still be a productive franchise player.

Her scoring average of 14.1 points per game is slightly bested by only reigning WNBA Finals MVP, Kahleah Copper. Excluding just three of 20 games, every performance has resulted in a double-digit performance. Her average of 8.8 rebounds per game also easily leads the Sky, nearly three more than Emma Meesseman’s 5.9.

In the Sky’s first post-All-Star break game, they had their struggles. While the outcome may have been a 90-75 victory, the win wasn’t quite as decisive as the score makes it look. But Parker kept Chicago in the game. Her 20 points at halftime accommodated for nearly half of Chicago’s 44. And it wasn’t till halfway through the fourth quarter, when the Sky went on a run, that the game became a rout.

Parker remains effective and wishes to play with ease even as retirement calls her name.

No. 1 of 11, No. 1 of 12

One game after the All-Star break, Chicago sits atop the standings at 17-6, just besting the Las Vegas Aces, the Western Conference leader. The Sky isn’t in that position if not for Parker. The jersey may read “3,” but there’s no doubt Parker is the number one player in Chicago. She has responsibilities as a veteran, a leader, and an all-around player.

But the Sky also isn’t best in the league record-wise without Meesseman and her defense. Without Courtney Vandersloot and her late-game heroics. Without Rebekah Gardner and Azurá Stevens and their contributions off the bench.

The Sky’s depth is one of its biggest strengths and an equally crucial reason for its success. Their bench holds numerous players that would, were they playing elsewhere, be starters.

Not to mention Parker was not the lone Sky player representing the home team at the All-Star Game. Chicago is more than a one-woman team. The Sky has multiple All-Stars in Copper, Messeeman, Parker, and Vandersloot. And don’t forget Allie Quigley, the only player ever to win four three-point shooting contests in either the WNBA or NBA. Talent and skill are aplenty on the Sky.

Winning a championship, however, is a challenging task. It’s even more difficult to win two-straight titles, a feat that takes just as much luck as it does skill.

For Chicago, a repeat achievement requires avoiding injuries and taking better care of the ball. But even considering all of those difficulties, with Parker’s impact and the way Chicago has fared so far this season, it’s tough not to see their future through championship blue-and-black-colored glasses.

Stats courtesy of ESPN

About Ashley Wijangco

Ashley is a Filipina American writer and Illinois journalism graduate based in the Chicago suburbs. She has a decade's worth of sports writing experience, having been published in several online publications. She writes about the Bulls, the Sky, and general NBA content for The Lead.

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