Candace Parker Ends Stellar Basketball Career, Plans to Remain in Sports Industry

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Candace Parker, the acclaimed three-time WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, brought her illustrious 16-season career to an end, sharing the news with her followers on social media this past Sunday. Despite her steely determination and lifelong drive for one more win, Parker knew it was time to hang up her jersey. As she expressed in her heartfelt Instagram post, both her heart and body had realized it was time to take a step back, but she needed to allow her mind the time to process and accept this significant decision.

Aged 38, Parker had expressed in November to The Associated Press that she harbored aspirations of continuing for another season if she could fully recoup from a foot injury which had sidelined her last season. But the sagacious veteran had always been wary of “cheating the game,” or herself for that matter. This sentiment also permeated her retirement announcement as she prepared to step away from the game, ahead of the Aces’ efforts to clinch a third consecutive title. Throughout her career, Parker has grappled with injuries, requiring her to undergo a total of 10 surgeries.

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In her heartfelt farewell, Parker stated, “I always wanted to walk off the court with no parade or tour, just privately with the ones I love. I ended the journey just as I started it, with her,” referring to her daughter whom she shared her final game with.

Parker’s illustrious journey in the league took off with the Los Angeles Sparks where she played her first 13 seasons. Staking her dominance early, she was selected as the No. 1 pick, and astonishingly clinched the Rookie of the Year and league MVP awards simultaneously in her first season. This remarkable feat had never been accomplished by any other WNBA player. Throughout her early dominance, she boasted an impressive average of 18.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.4 assists, thereby boosting the Sparks to a 10-win improvement in 2008.

Additional accolades followed in Parker’s wake as she went on to receive her second MVP award in 2013. Three years later, in 2016, she savored the glorious triumph of her first title with the Sparks. Subsequent victories would see her winning her second title alongside the Chicago Sky in 2021 and her third with the Las Vegas Aces in her final season.

Aces coach, Becky Hammon, acknowledged the bitter-sweetness of Parker’s retirement saying, “She changed the game. She’s the one when you talk about people that are now playing and coming up, they practiced Candace Parker’s moves.” Remarkably, Parker holds the unique record of being the only player in league history to win a championship with three different teams.

Extending her influence beyond the basketball court, Parker also won gold on two occasions for the national team at the Olympics in 2008 and 2012. However, she was conspicuously absent from the 2016 team.

Reflecting on her charismatic career, other players and coaches expressed their admiration for the retiring star. Breanna Stewart, Liberty star, said, “What she has done on and off the court has been amazing for our league. Appreciate all she’s done to help me get to where I am. We’ll definitely miss her this season.” Liberty coach, Sandy Brondello, who also coached Parker in Russia, echoed the sentiment, referring to Parker as a trailblazer in the game.

While her journey on the court has come to a close, Parker plans to continue her involvement in the game through her roles as a sports analyst for CBS Sports covering the NCAA Tournament and for NBA TV.

Negotiating her post-career path, Parker, after a foot surgery in July 2023, decided to heed Pat Summitt’s advice to focus on “chasing people and passions” and set her priority straight- to be a dedicated wife and mother, enjoying her family to the fullest.