Sky’s Candace Parker to pay homage to local basketball legends in style

The plan is to honor as many Chicago basketball stars as possible. Right now, Parker has the jerseys of Isiah Thomas, Kevin Garnett and Simeon star and Chicago high school basketball icon Benji Wilson on deck.

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Candace Parker stopped for a walk-in photo with her daughter, Lailaa ahead of the Sky’s Thursday night win over the Connecticut Sun.

Candace Parker stopped for a walk-in photo with her daughter, Lailaa ahead of the Sky’s Thursday night win over the Connecticut Sun.

Chicago Sky

Candace Parker hadn’t been signed long with the Sky this spring when she was already planning what clothes she’d wear to Wintrust Arena for the home opener.

She was sitting on the TNT set with Dwyane Wade, a fellow Chicago-area native and NBA analyst, when she posed an idea to him.

“I want to do something special going home,” she told Wade. “I think I’m going to rock all jerseys, but I don’t want to rock all professional jerseys. I want to rock some high school ones.”

She started making a list right then and tapped Wade and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, also an NBA analyst, to make lists of their own because she didn’t want to overlook anyone.

The first jersey she wore — for her arena walk-in before the home opener May 23, a game she ended up missing, along with seven others, because of an ankle injury — was -Michael Jordan’s from the Bulls.

Before Thursday’s game against the Sun, she showed up in Wade’s No. 25 from Richards High School.

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Candace Parker plans to pay homage to as many Chicago basketball stars as possible. She wore Dwyane Wade’s high school jersey to the Sky’s game Thursday night.

Chicago Sky

On deck are old jerseys of Thomas, Kevin Garnett and Chicago high school basketball icon Ben Wilson of Simeon. She plans to wear older brother Anthony Parker’s Naper-ville Central jersey at some point, too, although she’ll leave wearing her own Naperville Central jersey to her daughter, Lailaa.

Some of the throwback jerseys she wants to wear — to honor the starts of men and women who inspired her career — are harder to find. She purchased Wade’s Richards jersey online and is working to find a Cappie Pondexter jersey from Marshall High School.

“I just cannot rock a Phoenix Mercury jersey to a game,” Parker said, referring to Pondexter’s first WNBA team.

Pondexter’s own fashion has been signifi-cantly influential in how WNBA players show up to games today. Before teams were documenting their players’ walk-ins for social media, Pondexter was flexing for nobody but herself, wearing the latest exclusive sneakers paired with a dress one day and an oversized pair of sweatpants with a sport coat the next. Nothing was off-limits style-wise for her.

Today’s players are keeping up that same energy. Whether it’s the Sky’s Diamond DeShields walking in wearing a white pinstripe suit with a chain-link belt or teammate Lexie Brown donning a “Not Settling For Anyone’s Dusty Ass, Son” graphic tee, the walk-in has become a moment to make a statement.

The Sky are back at home at noon Saturday for their second consecutive matchup with the Sun. Their 81-75 win Thursday was a grind marked by offensive lulls in the first half, although their defense, second in the league, never wavered. They held the Sun’s second-leading scorer, DeWanna Bonner, to just 10 points, and five Sky players finished in double digits in scoring for the team’s fourth straight win.

Parker had 15 points, eight rebounds, three assists and a steal in front of a capacity crowd that included her parents and Lailaa.

She didn’t share how she’s showing up to Saturday’s game, but one thing’s for sure: She’ll be representing Chicago.

“I grew up watching all of those hoopers,” she said. “Coming back, that’s what I wanted to do, and it’s been a lot of fun reminiscing on watching them play.” V

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