Gold Medalists Stefanie Dolson, Candace Parker Help Chicago Sky To WNBA Title
by Chrös McDougall
Members of the Chicago Sky pose with the trophy after defeating the Phoenix Mercury in Game Four of the WNBA Finals to win the championship on Oct. 17, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.
Nearly three months after winning a historic Olympic gold medal in 3x3 basketball, Stefanie Dolson is a champion again after helping the Chicago Sky to their first WNBA championship Sunday.
Dolson, a 6-foot-5 center, scored eight points off the bench while adding three assists and two rebounds as the Sky defeated the Phoenix Mercury, 80-74, in Game 4 to clinch the best-of-five series.
Candace Parker, a 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist for Team USA, added 16 points for the Sky. A trio of 2020 Olympic gold medalists — Skylar Diggins-Smith, Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi — starred for the Mercury, who were looking for their fourth league championship.
Taurasi won her fifth Olympic gold medal with the U.S. 5x5 team this summer at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, making her and U.S. teammate Sue Bird the most decorated Olympic basketball players of all time.
Competing on its home court Sunday, Chicago came back from a five-point deficit with 5:25 remaining to secure the win.
The comeback was a fitting parallel for the Sky’s season. They made the playoffs as the No. 6 seed with a 16-16 record. After beating the Dallas Wings and then upsetting the Minnesota Lynx in the first two rounds, Chicago dispatched of the top-seeded Connecticut Sun, 3-1, in the semifinals. That set up a final against Phoenix, the No. 5 seed that also started in the first round.
Parker, one of the sport’s all-time greats and a native of Naperville, Illinois, signed with her hometown team before the season. A two-time league MVP, she made her sixth All-Star Game this summer at age 35.
The championship capped off a memorable summer for Dolson, who in July starred for the U.S. team that won the gold medal in 3x3 basketball’s Olympic debut. She scored seven points and grabbed nine rebounds for Team USA in its 18-15 win over the Russian Olympic Committee in the gold-medal match.
A two-time WNBA All-Star and key player off the bench for the Sky this season, Dolson opened the Finals with her best performance of the playoffs, scoring 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting in Chicago’s 91-77 win on Oct. 10. She closed it out with another strong performance, shooting 4-for-6, including a pair of key layups late in the game.
Dolson previously won two NCAA championships while competing for UConn.
“I’ve never seen Stef happier,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said last week, according to the Hartford Courant. “Winning the gold medal and getting to the Finals. I don’t know that there’s any team, anywhere, that wouldn’t benefit from having Stefanie Dolson.”