From Naperville to the Sky, Candace Parker’s work ethic, personality make her a champion according to her high school coach

WGN News Now

NAPERVILLE – Standing at the other end of the floor, the accomplishment was just beginning to hit one of the greatest players in the history of the Women’s National Basketball Association.

Candace Parker was becoming emotional as she watched Courtney Vandersloot knock down a pair of free throws to help the Sky put away a championship-clinching win over the Phoenix Mercury in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals.

It was something that Andy Nussbaum noticed watching from the stands at Wintrust Arena, and immediately he thought of a moment nearly two decades before that happened when he was Parker’s coach in the west suburbs.

“We had the same moment in the 2003 state champions where we’re going to win,” remembered the current Naperville Central girls basketball coach about that moment in Parker’s past. “There’s no way anybody can stop us from winning. It’s a statistical impossibility for us to lose. Somebody just punches a hole and those emotions just start to overflow and that’s what I could see.

“The emotional outpouring of a dream realized. It was both wonderful to see and reminiscent of the way it was in 2003. Then to see her sprint to her family at the end of the game, it was awesome.”

It was one of the best moments that Nussbaum has been there to see from Parker, whom he coached at Naperville Central as she led the program to state championships in 2003 and 2004. She’d then go to Tennessee where she helped the Volunteers to a pair of championships while winning various Player of the Year Awards.

While in the WNBA, she’s become one of the faces of the league, making six All-Star games, winning two MVP awards, a Defensive Player of the Year Award along with two league championships. Parker helped the Sparks to a title in 2016 then did so in her first year with the Sky in 2021, delivering Chicago its greatest professional women’s sports moment in history to date.

Yet Nussbaum has never seen a change in her demeanor or her work ethic during her time during any of her stops in basketball,

“The combination of pure talent, love for basketball, and desire to work hard and get better, you’re going to get a good player out of that when you have those three things,” said Nussbaum.

See more of what Nussbaum had to say about Parker after helping the Sky to a WNBA championship from Larry Hawley’s story on WGN News Now in the video above.

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