Candace Parker retires, named President of Women’s Basketball at Adidas

After 16 seasons, the 3x WNBA Champion announced her retirement from the league. Now, with the WNBA season starting, she's been named President of Women’s Basketball at Adidas. More about her career and reactions from players and coaches around the league.

(Photo by Jineen Williams/Ballislife)

Three-time WNBA Champion Candace Parker sent shockwaves across the basketball world when she announced her retirement from the league. Promising she'd never "cheat the game," Parker is ready for the next chapter of endeavors in her life. In doing so, the former WNBA Champion is leaving the game in a better place and going out on her terms. While some athletes opt for a retirement tour, Parker ended her career in private. The former WNBA MVP is going out the same way she entered the league, with her daughter Lailaa.

All business aside, her top priority remains being a mom and wife.

In a heartfelt post on social media, the WNBA veteran had two words, "I'm retiring." And for all the current and new players entering the league Parker had a short piece of advice, "enjoy it."

Having spent 16 years in the league, Parker, best known as "ACE," revolutionized the game of basketball. One of one, Parker will surely be missed on the court.

Before the announcement, Parker announced she would return to the Las Vegas Aces in February. After signing a one year-deal with the reigning champions, Parker was limited to just 18 games due to a fractured foot. Unable to return to the court, she watched on as the Aces were named back-to-back champions. A competitor her entire career, no. 3 made a decision that was best for her. Admitting rehabbing in the offseason "hasn't been fun," Parker's fractured foot simply hasn't cooperated to the fullest. Overall, she did remind us the ten surgeries she's had in her career.

For quite some time, Parkers been featured as a commentator and analyst with NBA on TNT, which includes NCAA Tournament coverage. Headlined by Shaquille O"Neal, the former NBA legend is a close mentor and friend to Parker.

And now, Parker lives out her new dream of entrepreneurship. Less than a week after retirement, Parker was named President of Women’s Basketball at Adidas. Although she won't physically be on the court, she will remain a key factor in elevating women's sports. The first woman to have her own "signature shoe" with the brand, Parker is now tasked with building the brands of current women Adidas Athletes. That list includes, but not limited to Aliyah Boston, Aaliyah Edwards, Alysha Clark, Betnijah Laney-Hamilton, Chelsea Gray, Erica Wheeler, Chiney Ogwumike, Kahleah Copper, and Nneka Ogwumike.

"I want to congratulate her as well on her new position with Adidas," said Dallas Wings head coach Latricia Trammell. "She actually has a seat at the table. Helping make those decisions of what's going on, not just being a mascot of Adidas. I think that's really big for her, and I know that she's going to continue to grow out game. It may not be on the court. She is definitely going to continue to grow our game."

Although she's stepped away from the hardwood, the former WNBA champion remains involved with the league. Featured in the newest SKIMS' Fits Everybody underwear campaign, Parker was featured in a series of photoshoots, alongside with her former teammate Kelsey Plum.

In her 16 years, Parker's had a profound impact on the league. She's had to opportunity to play alongside some of the WNBS greats: Nneka Ogwumike, Kahleah Copper, A'ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray, just to name a few. After heading home to win her second championship with the Sky, Parker had significant influence on then Chicago guard, Kahleah Copper.

"Being in Chicago, I had Candace Parker," Copper said in a league wide zoom interview. "I was able to learn how to continue to grow-- even after being a winner."

Growing up, I started idolizing Parker since I was just a teenager. Watching her, Diana Taurasi, and others fueled my passion for basketball at young age, which has only strengthened over time. Similar to Parker, I indeed to "fell in love with a little orange ball at 13 years old." It wasn't very often Parker matched up with UConn. But when she did, I figured out a way to get to downtown Hartford, Connecticut.

The legendary battles between Coach Pat Summitt of the Tennessee Vols and Coach Geno Auriemma of the Huskies are permanently etched in my memory. Even though I grew up as a UConn fan, there were many great aspects about Parker that left a profound impact on me. Her love for the game, professionalism, and authenticity. It didn't matter that Parker didn't choose UConn as her first choice. As someone who bleeds blue, I loved the way she captured and changed the game.

A generational talent, there's only ever been one Candace Parker to leave the mark she did on women's basketball. The first woman ever to dunk in NCAA tournament history, she did it twice. In fact, I'll never forget her first WNBA dunk as a member of the Los Angeles Sparks just weeks after I graduated high school. Although she didn't face the Huskies often, who can forget the famous Parker "slam dunk in Hartford."

CLEVELAND - APRIL 03: Tournament MVP Candace Parker #3 of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers celebrates Tennessee's 59-46 win against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to win the 2007 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship Game at Quicken Loans Arena on April 3, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The McDonald's All-American's famous dunk is one that set the stage for her career. Appearing on ESPN, Parker competed against several future legendary NBA players, including Rudy Gay, Josh Smith, and J.R. Smith, among others. In fact, she was the first woman ever to win the co-ed 2004 jam fest.

Because of the former Lady Vol, I developed a deep love for sports and Women's basketball as a whole. Now, following her retirement announcement, I'm writing a column about her illustrious career. She's forever known as a trailblazer in women's basketball; however, she's much more than just a hooper. A businesswoman, mom, wife, analyst, astute broadcaster and analyst, are just a few of her many designations. I even made the trek to visit the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame just prior to the pandemic.

A Naperville native, Parker was recruited out of high school by the late Pat Summitt and the Tennessee Lady Vols. Opting to play for Summitt over coach Auriemma and the Huskies, Parker led the Vols to back-to-back National Championship titles in 2007 and 2008. At 6-foot-4, the former Lady Vol primarily played the four and five. However, she was most known for her versatility. Not defined by a position, Parker. Not only was she the first collegiate woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game, she threw down twice in a single game.

(Photo: Jineen Williams/Ballislife)

Drafted no.1 overall by the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2008 draft, Parker went on to spend the next 13 years of her career with the Sparks. The only player to win both the Rookie of the Year and MVP Award in 2008, Ace shot a career-high 42.3 percent from deep. Listed as a power forward, I'll forever remember her post moves and ability to play any position. Considering how many forward forwards and and centers are able to shoot outside the arc now a days, Parker set that tone. No matter what position, she introduced and manifested positionless basketball.

Back in 2008, I'll never forget her astonishing rookie debut against the Phoenix Mercury. A rookie, straight from Pat Summits system, single handedly defeated the defending champions. In a box score full of various statistics, the rookie finished with 34 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, two steals, and one block. From that day on, Parker played the game how she knew, regardless of her height. The ability to play one through five, along with her rookie impact, crowns her as one of the best to ever play the game.

Her passing ability, athleticism, rebounding--Parker could bank a shot anywhere on the court. She's truly a player that could "do it all." Although the Las Vegas Aces acknowledged "the majority of her career was played in opposing uniforms," the Aces released a genuine statement:

The dunks. The dimes. The boards. The blocks. The smile. The swagger. The memories Candace Parker created for a generation of women’s basketball fans will remain ingrained in our collective conscience forever, but she has given so much more to the game beyond her accolades and statistics."

It wasn't until 2016 where Parker won her first WNBA championship, alongside Nneka Ogwumike, Chelsea Gray, and Kristi Toliver. The finals MVP, Parker is the only player in WNBA history to win a championship with three different teams: The Sparks in 2016, the Chicago Sky in 2021, and the Las Vegas Aces in 2023. Throughout her illustrious career, she has several accolades. That list includes the following, but not limited to: 2x MVP, 7x All-Star, All-Star game MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the year, 3x WNBA Champion, blocks leader, rebounding leader, and 7x All-First team.

Speaking of defense, Trammell was an assistant coach at the same time Candace Parker won Defensive Player of the Year Award. A defensive minded coach, Trammell reflected on CP3's career and her time with Los Angeles in a league wide press conference.

"I think she's a legend," said Trammell. "She set that standard early on. Just what I've seen her do-- helping the rookie along the way. She was definitely one that you would want to go talk to, to see how it's done."

In addition, Parker was named to the 20th and 25th anniversary teams, and had quite the career overseas. A 5x Russian League Champion and Olympic gold medalist, Parker is walking away from game giving it everything she had.

"I'm grateful for the 16 ears I PLAYED A GAME for a living time & DESPITE all the injuries, I hooped," Parker wrote on her personal Instagram. "I'm grateful for family, friends, teammates, coaches, doctors, trainers & fans who made this journey so special."

Thank you Candace for all of the memories, on and off the court. Not only was CP3 a role model on the court, she's showing the world you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Those endeavors go well beyond the basketball court.

Stay tuned for more NCAA and WNBA related articles.

Sara Jane Gamelli is a full-time Sportswriter, Content Creator and Manager at Ballislife Bets. She has a focus on the NBA, WNBA, NCAA Basketball, and the NFL. Sara Jane currently resides in Connecticut/NYC area with her Cat and Dog. SJ has her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut in Economics, with a minor in business administration.

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