CHICAGO – They began to play in the Women’s National Basketball Association back in 2006, and since then they’ve been working towards a moment like they’ll have this weekend.
A city is behind them as they chase a championship and so will be a pair of sold-out crowds at Wintrust Arena on Friday night and then Sunday. The arrival of the WNBA Finals for the first time in seven years is easily the biggest moment in the history of the franchise.
Winning Game 3 and Game 4 against the Mercury over the next 48 hours would cement that.
After a split in Phoenix in the best-of-five finals, the Sky now head home with a chance to clinch their first WNBA title if they can sweep the next two games at home. It’s something the pulled off in their last series against the Sun in the semifinals as they captured Game 3 & 4 at Wintrust Arena to get their shot at the Mercury.
Friday will be the first WNBA Finals game played in Chicago since September 12, 2014, when the Mercury finished off a sweep of the championship series with an 87-82 win over the Sky at UIC Pavilion.
Courtney Vandersloot was a member of the team back then in what was her fifth season with the team after being selected with the third overall pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft. They didn’t have a sellout for that contest at UIC, but they will on Friday and Sunday, which makes for quite a moment for the All-WNBA second-team selection in 2021.
“It’s kinda the atmosphere that you dream about as a kid, playing the WNBA Finals in front of a sold-out arena,” said Vandersloot. “I think that says all that needs to be said about it. Now we’re just going to come out and enjoy every moment and try and put on a show for our fans.”
Six-time All-Star Candace Parker has done so a number of times along with Vandersloot this season, just as the franchise envisioned when they signed her this offseason. The Naperville native captured a WNBA championship with the Sparks in 2016, but winning one in her hometown would be something special.
“I can’t even put into words what it would feel like, and I think it’s amazing to be in Chicago,” said Parker. “To be playing in a Game 3 at home with this group, I’m really excited about the possibilities.”
So are a lot of others on this historic weekend for the Sky in the “Windy City.”