CHICAGO — There was only one thing left for the Chicago Sky to do after winning their first WNBA championship: swag surfin’.
Fans poured onto Michigan Avenue and into Jay Pritzker Pavilion Tuesday as the team showed off their new trophy to fans Downtown, then led the crowd and local officials in a rally to celebrate the city’s first basketball championship in more than 20 years.
Fans partied in their seats at the pavilion and made Michigan Avenue blue and white as the champions made their way through the city. Coach James Wade raised the trophy on the lead bus as Sky center Stefanie Dolson snapped photos of supporters and rocked the Olympic gold medal she won this summer.
Chance the Rapper, who was spotted at the Sky’s playoff games, joined the team on stage, along with Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Gov. JB Pritzker, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton.
It was the first championship parade and rally in Chicago since 2016 and the first basketball championship since the end of the Bulls dynasty in 1998. Pritzker handed Sky owner Michael Alter a proclamation officially renaming Chicago as “Sky Town” for the day.
Candace Parker’s daughter, Lailaa, watched from the front row as her mom paid tribute to the city to which she pledged to bring home a title. Parker, who was a star player at Naperville Central, spent most of her professional career in Los Angeles before joining the Sky this year.
“I remember watching the Chicago Bulls parade and the Chicago Bulls rally on television and just dreaming of being in that moment,” Parker said. “Just dreaming of bringing a title to your hometown. And to do it with a special group in front of a city that showed up. We turned up at Wintrust!”
Lightfoot, who also was in attendance when the Sky clinched the title Sunday, already is looking forward to more success from the latest Chicago team to win it all.
“Thank you for being here to celebrate one of the most important moments in Chicago sports history,” Lightfoot told the crowd. “These are tremendous leaders, and we owe them our thanks, our hearts and, yeah, a repeat next year.”
Young girls and boys skipped school and fans like Kenjrick Watson called out from work. Watson, a teacher at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, was outside Wintrust an hour early to watch the Sky parade take off towards the Pavilion.
“Technically, I told my bosses my tummy was hurting,” Watson said. “But they said, ‘Yeah, have fun at the parade.’”
Fans raised signs reading “The Champs Are Here,” and “The Women and the WNBA deserve a pay raise.” The Whitney Young girls basketball team came to the rally with matching T-shirts that their coach, Krissy Harper, made Monday, combining the Sky players with the school logo.
“Because we need that same juju that the Sky had to win for us,” Harper said. “That same magic.”
Fans regaled Kahleah Copper with “M-V-P!” chants as she took the mic.
“I want to give a major shoutout to the city of Chicago for taking us in, for taking me in — just a kid from North Philly,” Copper said. “The city of Chicago, y’all were incredible. Thank you all for coming out and giving us the energy we needed throughout the playoffs, really believing in us. And we did it, y’all.”
Wade told the crowd how he lobbied for Parker to sign with the team last year, offering up a chance to win a championship at home and enjoy an endless supply of Portillo’s. As it happens, that’s exactly where Parker took her teammates to celebrate.
The job is done, and the Sky are the city’s top team.
“Remember the seat you’re sitting in right now,” Wade said to the crowd. “Because you’re going to be sitting in the same one next year.”
More photos from the parade and rally:
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