Hawl In: The quick yet memorable Chicago run for Elena Delle Donne
CHICAGO – On Thursday, Chicago lost one of its sporting icons.
I consider Sky forward Elena Delle Donne to be that type of person in the city’s sports landscape.
Well, former Sky forward Elena Delle Donne now.
She’s off to Washington, traded away in a rare mega trade in the WNBA with the Mystics that was made official on Thursday. Gone with it is one of the Windy City’s sporting stars.
Why do I say that? A few reasons that fit the criteria.
For one her play on the floor justified it. Three-time WNBA All-Star, two-time WNBA First Team, and the 2015 WNBA Player of the Year. She averaged 20.5 points per game in her four seasons with the Sky and led them to their only Eastern Conference Championship so far in 2014.
Those are signficant, what she does off the floor is even more so during her years in Chicago.
Delle Donne’s efforts to help her sister Lizzie, whom was born deaf and blind, with cerebral palsy and autism, is her passion. She documented it with an article in “The Players’ Tribune” in the middle of her MVP season in 2015.
A year before Delle Donne was named a Special Olympics Ambassador for her work with the organization. She includes a number of Special Olympics athletes in her “De11e Donne Skills Academy.”
She also battled Lyme disease during her entire career, becoming the first ever Lyme Research Alliance’s National Ambassador. Delle Donne had the disease flare up last month, ending her quick run in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Her talent, efforts with the Special Olympics, along with her advertisements with Nike have made Delle Donne one of America’s most recognizable female athletes.
She’ll continue to be in Washington. The move was made to be closer to her family, sure, but also to begin her second chapter of her WNBA career.
“But the basketball side of things is something I’m smiling the most about, am most excited about,” said Delle Donne to Deleware Online. “Each time I listen to coach [Mike] Thibault speak about the team and what he thinks we can accomplish, it just gets me so excited to get on the court to work with these awesome and talented teammates.
“So much went into this decision and I think it really meets all my personal and professional wishes.”
In some ways, it’s a shame.
Should things have worked out with the Sky, perhaps leading the team to a WNBA championship, Delle Donne’s star could have only grown in the city.
At the same point, it was great to having an iconic female athlete in Chicago’s traditionally male sporting landscape. She made people who normally wouldn’t watch the WNBA willing to take a look at the product itself and the athletes who make it up.
While brief, Elena developed into an icon for Chicago sports. Indeed the Windy City’s loss is the Washington D.C’s gain.