When the Chicago Sky clinched the WNBA championship title Sunday night — the city’s first basketball title in 20 years — Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced celebrations would soon follow. Two days later, thousands of fans joined the mayor downtown to cheer for Chicago’s reigning champs.
The festivities kicked off Tuesday at 11 a.m. with a parade beginning at Wintrust Arena and ended with a noon rally at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The events were free and open to the public, and despite it being a weekday, the pavilion was packed.
“For fans that jumped on the bandwagon last minute, that’s alright, we invite you,” Lightfoot joked. “Just make sure to sign up for season tickets next season!”
The Sky beat the Phoenix Mercury 80-74 at Wintrust Arena Sunday night, making them the first Chicago team to win a championship title at home since the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2015.
Illinois elected officials Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Lightfoot were all in attendance at Tuesday’s rally, sitting side-by-side with the Sky’s front office and players. They were joined by Chicago artist Chance the Rapper, who swapped his emblematic “3” hat for Sky player Diamond DeShields’ WNBA Champions hat.
Excitement and pride were palpable throughout the crowd — and on stage — a reminder of the unifying power sports held in pre-pandemic days. For Chicago natives like 23-year-old Azariah Hill, the Sky’s win felt like “God’s blessing.”
“It’s impactful to be a part of,” he said.
James Wade, the Sky’s head coach, said that equally as impressive as his players’ athletic abilities is their integrity. “If you saw them off the floor as much as you see them on it, you’d be so proud of how they represent this great city.”
More photos from the celebrations:
Madison Muller is a part-time digital producer for WBEZ. Follow her @g0ingmad.
Manuel Martinez is a visual journalist at WBEZ. Follow him @DenverManuel.
Michael Puente covers Chicago and Northwest Indiana for WBEZ. Follow him @MikePuenteNews.