Stefanie Dolson and the Chicago Sky completed one of the most unlikely championship runs in WNBA history, turning around a 2-7 start to first make the 2021 playoffs and then win it all.
“I don’t know if it was that close of not making [the playoffs], but it was a little too close for comfort,” Dolson told Kelley O’Hara on the Just Women’s Sports podcast.
Finishing the regular season 16-16, the Sky clinched the sixth seed heading into the postseason.“It wasn’t great for us, but we just knew if we made it that we had a chance.”
Rather than view the playoffs as an extension of the 2021 season, Chicago treated the postseason as a fresh start.
“Playoffs are a whole new season,” said Dolson. “When you say clean slate, it’s clean slate, especially with the way we have it with the first two rounds [being one game each].”
The Sky battled through those single-elimination games with renewed energy, beating No. 3 Minnesota to advance to the semifinals.
“We have nothing to lose we can just go out and just play kind of free,” Dolson said of the team’s mindset at the sixth seed.
“We did a whole defense that we’d never done all season,” revealed Dolson .“Who knows why, but it worked.”
“Everyone stepped up their play and it was just an incredible ride honestly.”
The WNBA Championship is still sinking in for Dolson, who admits to O’Hara, “I still can’t believe what happened to be honest with you, because we played so many great teams.”
Dolson says that winning the WNBA title was similar to how she felt after taking home gold in 3×3 basketball in Tokyo. Pure joy mixed with overwhelming relief, Dolson remembers experiencing a flood of emotions as the final buzzer went off.
“You just kind of look up in the sky and then you just find someone to hug and then you just hug them.”
As for the celebration, Dolson says the most memorable part of the post-championship party was the fact that Chance the Rapper was there. “He’s been to one other game in my entire career in Chicago and then all of a sudden he’s at both of these home games and celebrating with us.”
Dolson admits she was struck at how down to earth the Chicago-born star was, revealing that while the team was up, standing on sofas in the club, “he’s just walking around, normal crowd, like he’s just a normal person. I’m like, do you know who you are? Because if I was you I would be up here.”
Listen to the full conversation with Dolson and O’Hara to hear more about the basketball star’s journey to the WNBA title and her gold-medal run in Tokyo.