Sparks, Aces star Parker announces retirement from WNBA 

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY
WNBA legend Candace Parker announced her retirement from the league after 16 seasons on Sunday.

LAS VEGAS — As the WNBA enters a new era of generational talent, three-time WNBA champion and two-time MVP Candace Parker — one of the league’s foundational stars — announced her retirement Sunday. 

“I always wanted to walk off the court with no parade or tour, just privately with the ones I love,” Parker said in an Instagram post. “What now was to be my last game, I walked off the court with my daughter. I ended the journey just as I started it, with her.

“I fell in love with a little orange ball at 13 years old and because of it my world goes ’round. The highs are unmatched & the lows taught me lessons. On & off the court I’m proud l’ve always been true & stayed true to ME, even when it wasn’t popular.

“I’m grateful that for 16 years I played a game for a living & despite all the injuries, I hooped. I’m grateful for family, friends, teammates, coaches, doctors, trainers & fans who made this journey so special.”

Parker burst onto the women’s basketball scene as a national sensation at the University of Tennessee under legendary coach Pat Summit. She showed a never-before-seen skillset in the women’s game that included dominance on both sides of the ball and several signature slam dunks. 

Parker quickly established herself in the WNBA, becoming the first player to win the MVP in her rookie season with the Los Angeles Sparks. It was a feat seen twice before in the men’s game as she joined Wilt Chamberlain and Wes Unseld in that club. 

Parker led the Sparks to the league title in 2016 before leaving in 2020 for the Chicago Sky, where she had a career resurgence. She the team on an upset run through the WNBA playoffs as they beat the Phoenix Mercury in 2021 for her second championship.

Parker played her final season with the Las Vegas Aces, serving as the veteran leader in the locker room on last season’s championship team. She battled injuries throughout the season, but was a constant presence on the team and throughout the city.