Two-time WNBA champion Candace Parker remembers when the Chicago Bulls celebrated their championships in the '90s with extravagant parades and rallies downtown. She so badly wanted to be in that moment, basking in the glory of winning a championship for Chicago, the biggest city near her hometown, Naperville.
In October, she got her wish just two days after helping the Chicago Sky win their first WNBA title in franchise history. The team celebrated with a rally thrown by the city.
"I'm so grateful for the memories of the Bulls and growing up in a winning city where it was like the expectation was that," Parker said. "I think then it became an expectation of myself. That's what the bar was. Now, listen, the Chicago Bulls are playing extremely well, too, so we may be onto something."
Parker remembers the days of watching Michael Jordan, but also remembers the dark days in recent years when the team was difficult to watch.
At 10-4, the Bulls are off to a hot start this season and Parker commends DeMar DeRozan for "leveling the ship" on this team.
"Yes, they are amazing, but it's a long season," Parker said. "But I love how DeRozan is evening the ship. He's leveling the ship out. Like, we're not the greatest thing. Things aren't difficult when they lost two in a row. They came back and beat a great Brooklyn team."
The game Parker is referring to is the fourth-quarter comeback in which the Bulls answered the Nets with 42 points to win 118-95 at the United Center, snapping a two-game losing streak. DeRozan finished with 28 points.
DeRozan said that people have called him a "washed" player in recent years, though he's not showing any signs of it after scoring a season-high 38 points in Monday's win against the Lakers.
"I love it when people call me washed," Parker said. "Like, please tell me I can't do something. I'd almost prefer that than like you telling me that I'm great. I don't like it cause It gives me motivation.
"I think it's the same with DeMar and it's the same with Lonzo Ball, the same with Zach LaVine. At one point in their career, at every point in their career, they weren't wanted."
Parker, who serves as an NBA game analyst with Turner Sports, believes DeRozan, Ball, LaVine, Alex Caruso and Nikola Vučević all have similar stories of not feeling wanted in their careers and it being something they can connect with and build off of down the stretch.
The character, leadership and chemistry that the Bulls have shown so far equates to one mutual goal: win the game.
Parker believes if the Bulls can follow the Sky to add back-to-back basketball championships for the city of Chicago it will "shock the world." As a true fan and NBA analyst, she is excited to see what the Bulls will do the rest of the way.
"It's exciting for me on NBA TV and on TNT to be like, 'Guys, remember when you guys were dragging me for my Bulls the last three years? Now what?' "