In three years, James Wade helps lead Sky to a championship

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CHICAGO – When he took over the team in November 2018 as head coach and general manager, he inherited a squad that still had talent but were looking for direction.

Elena Delle Donne, the 2015 WNBA MVP, was gone for a few years after a trade and they had failed to advance to the playoffs the previous two seasons. Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley were the stars, but a new group is expected to be formed to compete for a championship that did not take place during the Delle Donne era.

Less than three years later, the Chicago Sky are WNBA champions. Wade is the man who helped build around the players he inherited and then led them to their first title, creating the biggest moment in franchise history. He instilled faith in the group and die-hard fans that such a moment like the one that happened on Sunday at Wintrust Arena could happen, and he was rewarded with two-game ‘win or come home’ wins. , then the WNBA semi-finals and finals.

“When I got the job in 2018, I still remember saying we were going to win a championship. No idea how. We were coming out of a team that was 10th and had no playoffs, and you couldn’t have told anyone after finishing sixth that we were going to be the champions, “said Wade.” We did it because we believed in it. We probably did something that no other team has ever done. made.

“We just changed who we were because we wanted to change, and we decided to change, and here we are.”

Players Wade inherited like Quigley and Vandersloot have continued to play strong while Kahleah Copper, who arrived in the Delle Donne trade, has become a major contributor over the past two years. Stefanie Dolson was also part of that deal and took on the roles of starter and reserve for the team.

Diamond DeShields was drafted in 2019 by Wade and has already been an All-Star while contributing heavily during her three years with the team. Azura Stevens was acquired in a trade with the Wings in 2020, then in 2021 six-time All-Star Candace Parker arrived.

Along with others, they played a major role in rebuilding the team and created chemistry that worked at the right time. After a 16-16 regular season, the Sky went 8-2 to win their first championship in their 16th season.

It also adds a historic moment to Wade’s basketball career that began in Memphis, Tennessee, where he grew up. He played at three different colleges, then began an overseas playing career from 2001 to 2013. He started his coaching career with the San Antonio Silver Stars in 2012 and worked with them with the women’s club. French BLMA until 2016.

Wade went on to serve as an assistant coach in the 2017-18 season for the Minnesota Lynx before obtaining the Sky head coach position in November 2018.

Now he is the WNBA champion and he got to celebrate with his family who came from France to be a part of the moment. Wade saw a full house celebrate his team as his career and a franchise came full circle in three years.

“The Playoffs are nothing I’ve ever seen, and it’s been amazing, and you can tell Chicago, like they’re 100% behind us, and you felt the energy of it. Like you felt it. – you really feel the energy, “said Wade.” Now this is how you make familiar names in your town. People are going to go around, they are going to know who Sloot is, they are going to know who Kah is. [Kahleah Copper] is. They already know who Candace is, but there are so many stories on the floor that are unique, that represent Chicago and what they mean to the city and what the city means to them.

“So I just want these stories told, but winning a championship helped tell these stories.”

His will be said too.

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