‘They Messed Up’ | Candace Parker Had Signature Shoe Before Caitlin Clark, Who Former Shoe Exec Sonny Vaccaro Believes Was Grossly Underpaid By Nike

Sunday afternoon WNBA legend and three-time WNBA champion Candace Parker announced her retirement via Instagram.

The only player in league history to win the MVP as a rookie, won those three titles with three different franchises (Los Angeles, Chicago and Las Vegas). She says her injured foot, which hampered her all of last season, just hasn’t healed enough for her to feel comfortable continuing her playing career. As she’s said, she’ll “never cheat the game.”

Having just turned 38, Parker who was once the face of the league will leave a legacy unrivaled by most.

Candace Parker Is One of 13 WNBA Players With Signature Shoe

Parker also has the unique distinction of being one of only 13 WNBA players to ever have a signature shoe, debuting her signature Adidas shoe in 2010-11. She’ll now continue to be an “NBA on TNT” analyst while watching 2024 No. 1 overall pick Caitlin Clark attempt to lead a league that Parker was once the face of. Clark herself signed a huge shoe deal with Nike last week. The record-setting deal is for eight years and $28 million which is a $3.5 million payout. 

It’s also the largest deal ever for any WNBA player. 

Clark Becomes Fourth Player With Current Deal: Was She Shortchanged?

Clark joins the likes of Breanna Stewart (Puma), Sabrina Ionescu (Nike) and Elena Delle Donne (Nike) as the only players on current deals. Parker was one of the last players to receive a shoe deal when she did, which was years prior to the aforementioned four more recent deals.

As pertains to Clark, whose deal is record-setting in itself, not everyone believes the deal is good enough. Former shoe executive Sonny Vaccaro told TMZ Sports this about Clark’s deal. 

“She should have gotten a piece of everything, just like Michael Jordan.”

“I’m saying to you, he said. “They messed up. They should have held on to the last drop.”

Vaccaro believes Clark should’ve gotten more than the $3.5 million annually, plus a portion of each Clark-branded item that Nike sells. In other words, Vaccaro is saying Nike should’ve treated Clark like they did Michael Jordan when he signed with the shoe giant in 1984, creating the “Air Jordan” brand. 

Related: Sonny Vaccaro On How “Amateurism” Was Created To Restrict Athletes (theshadowleague.com)

Is Vaccaro Correct? 

Hearing Vaccaro mention Clark and Jordan in the same breath proves just how much star power the former Iowa sharpshooter already has. Because of that, Vaccaro’s statement about a Jordan-esque type deal is something that should’ve been discussed. 

When you hear WNBA Cathy Englebert say she’s looking to double the league’s revenue from $60 million to $120 million in the very near future on the strength of Clark and some other newbies, it makes Vaccaro’s statement even more plausible. 

Remember, none of that would be possible without the showstopper Clark, and Vaccaro, who has never been one to hold his tongue, sounds like he wanted Nike to compensate her even more handsomely for. 

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