Oct 8, 2021 - Sports

Candace Parker cements her Chicago legacy

Candace Parker sits on a chair at a basketball game.

McDonald's All American Game: Team West Candace Parker (31) on the bench in 2004. Photo: Manny Millan /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

The Chicago Sky are heading back to the WNBA Finals for the second time in franchise history.

  • Game 1 is Sunday at 2pm on ESPN.

Why it matters: The No. 6 seed shocked the league with a huge upset over the No. 1 seed Connecticut Sun thanks to a huge showing from hometown hero Candace Parker.

Flashback: If you aren't a basketball fan but recognize the name, it's because Parker grew up in Naperville and graced the cover of the local sports pages throughout her high school years.

  • A Bulls fan whose favorite player was Ron Harper, she played at Naperville Central from 2001-2004 and was twice selected as the best high school player in the nation.
  • She dunked at 15 years old, becoming the first female athlete to dunk a basketball during a game in Illinois history. Parker went on to win the McDonald's All-American slam dunk contest against former NBA stars like J.R. Smith.

This season, Parker returned to Chicago after spending the first 13 seasons of her career with the Los Angeles Sparks.

  • She honored Chicago basketball greats by wearing the high school jerseys of Dwayne Wade, Kevin Garnett and the late Benji Wilson.

💭 Justin's thought bubble: It's hard to put into words how much Chicago loves a hometown hero story. Parker has been just that since she was a sophomore in high school. For her to be back here at 35 years old, leading the Sky to the Finals? It's destiny, Chicago style.

  • We see you, Candace.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Chicago stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more