Chicago Sky star Candace Parker knew exactly who she wanted to dedicate their WNBA title to on Sunday afternoon.
After the Sky beat the Phoenix Mercury in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals to secure their first-ever championship at the Wintrust Arena, Parker made sure to thank both Kobe and Gianna Bryant.
The win was, at least in part, thanks to them and a conversation she had with Vanessa Bryant before Game 4.
“I think Kobe and Gigi have meant so much to our league,” Parker said. “So the advice I got from Vanessa before the game was, ‘Play Gigi’s way.’ And I think we’ve done that. We did that all playoffs. And so I just want to acknowledge [Kobe’s] contribution.”
Parker, a Chicago native, has now won two WNBA titles in her career. She signed with the Sky in free agency last spring, and dropped 16 points with 13 rebounds and five assists in the Game 4 win.
She was incredibly emotional after the clock expired — especially after she found her daughter, Lailaa, on the court.
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"I had flashbacks to high school and it was like we won the state championship," Parker said. "It was amazing to hug my dad and my mom and my family. It's an amazing feeling to be from here and see some people in the stands who have supported you since you started."
The connection both Kobe and Gianna have had with the WNBA, both before and after their deaths last year, has been massive. Though Gianna wasn’t able to make it into the league herself, Parker said it was her legacy that Vanessa told her to channel coming into the game.
“[Vanessa] said, if Gigi could play, she would play as hard as she could,” Parker said. “So I think that that was huge in our team and just us overcoming everything that came today. So thank you Vanessa. We love you Gigi, we love you Kobe.”