Chicago Sky fans were taken aback when head coach and general manager James Wade left the team midseason to become an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors. Naturally, there are an array of emotions and thoughts that enter one's mind after such a big decision.
Of course, there is affection, as Wade led the underdog Sky to their first WNBA championship in franchise history in 2021. There is also bound to be some sadness and hurt given the abrupt nature of the departure. Processing all of those feelings will hopefully be easier for fans following the coach's explanation for his exit.
“Today, I spoke to former Sky coach/GM James Wade about his decision to accept a position with the Raptors, which he said had nothing to do with concern over job security and everything to do with his family + an opportunity to ‘further myself as a coach,”‘ Annie Costabile of the Chicago Sun-Times tweeted Sunday night.
Many people speculated that Wade could have been jumping ship before the organization had a chance to dismiss him, given Chicago's lackluster 7-9 record at the time. The team's future is in considerable doubt after losing a big chunk of their core during the offseason, most notably WNBA legend Candace Parker. Fans cannot argue with Wade's reasoning. An opportunity for a new challenge with the Raptors in the NBA is all too tempting.
He leaves an indelible mark on the team and fan base, having immediately revived the struggling Sky upon his arrival in 2019. He was named Coach of the Year before an improbable title run two years later. The good times rolled into last season, as James Wade was named Executive of the Year en route to Chicago winning a franchise-record 26 games.
Roster upheaval and the allure of the Raptors makes this a practical move, but one that thrusts the Sky into even more uncertain times. They won their first game under interim coach and GM Emre Vatansever and will look to continue to brave this new era Friday night at home against the Atlanta Dream.