Friday, May 27, 2022

2021 WNBA Finals: Sky guard Kahleah Copper named MVP after Chicago’s first title

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CHICAGO — Sixteen years after they first entered the league, the Chicago Sky are finally WNBA champions. On Sunday afternoon, the Sky came back from a 14-point deficit to beat the Phoenix Mercury 80-74 in Game 4 of the Finals to close things out and win their first title. 

Though she was limited to just 10 points and two rebounds in the deciding game, Kahleah Copper was named 2021 WNBA Finals MVP. For the series, she averaged 17 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 50 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from 3-point land. 

The No. 7 overall pick back in 2016, Copper played sparingly in her first few seasons in the league. But last summer in the bubble she put together a breakout campaign and carried that momentum into this season. She was the Sky’s leading scorer in the regular season, and again in the playoffs. 

She credited Candace Parker for challenging her and helping her take her game to another level. 

“I just lived up to the challenge and her expectation,” Copper said during the postgame celebration. “It felt like it was really far for me at first but every day she consistently told me what I could bring to this team and I just continually brought it every single day.”

Copper’s success was also about her own personal hard work and dedication. 

“I worked so f—— hard,” Copper said. “I worked so hard. I worked so hard and my teammates and my coaches believed in me and I just stayed down until it was my turn.” 

All series long, Copper’s quickness and athleticism were a major problem for the Mercury. She got downhill into the lane at will to score and get to the free throw line, and on the other end of the floor was constantly disrupting the Mercury’s rhythm. In Game 1, she went for 21 points and 10 rebounds in a blowout win to help the Sky get off to a good start and steal homecourt. Later on, in a pivotal Game 3 with the series tied at 1-1, she went for 22 points. 

“We knew Kah was going to be MVP,” Sky head coach James Wade said. “Y’all just didn’t know it.”

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