Happy Candace Parker Day | September 16th Officially Stamped

Screen Shot of Candace Parker's Appearance on Good Morning America

Candace Parker has officially received her flowers from the city of Chicago. Sept. 16 has been formally stamped as Candace Parker Day in the Windy City.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed a proclamation on Wednesday, Sept. 15, making it Candace Parker Day. One of the most decorated basketball players ever, Parker is considered a true daughter of the Land of Lincoln.

High School Greatness

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Parker grew up in Naperville, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago. Parker attended Naperville Central High School, where she landed a trifecta of accolades: Naismith, Gatorade, and USA Today National Prep Player of the Year (2003 and 2004).

She was also a three-time Gatorade Illinois State Player of the Year in 2002, 2003, and 2004. Parker was a 2004 McDonald’s All-American her senior year in high school.

However, Parker’s matriculation to college was nothing short of legendary.

Collegiate All-Star

Parker entered the University of Tennessee in the fall of 2004. She was listed as a guard, center and forward, a testament to her athleticism.

After redshirting in early 2005 due to an ankle injury, Parker started for Tennessee in the 2005-2006 season. She eventually led the Lady Volunteers to back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2007 and 2008.

She averaged 19.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 2.4 blocks per game during her four-year collegiate career. Parker is also the fastest Tennessee player to reach 1,000 career points; she accomplished this during her sophomore year.

On March 19, 2006, Parker made history as the first woman to dunk in an NCAA Tournament game. She reached the achievement in an NCAA tournament first-round game against Army. However, she followed that up by being the first woman to dunk twice in any game.

Georgeann Wells is the first American woman to register a dunk in an official NCAA intercollegiate basketball game on December 21, 1984.

Trophies

Parker was also the SEC, Coaches and AP Rookie of the Year, helping her team win the 2006 SEC tournament championship. The win came with a highlight-reel finish; Parker hit the game-winning shot with 17 seconds remaining in the SEC tournament championship game against LSU.

Eventually, she was named tournament MVP and the 2006 Kodak All-America team, making her one of the few to receive the award as a freshman.

In college, Parker earned Final Four MVP honors in back-to-back years and was also named the National Player of the Year for both seasons. The recognition came from every significant award committee.

Parker was the only college player named to the USA squad for the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women in Brazil. However, she averaged 16.6 points per game as a USA Women’s U18 team member before that. They won gold at the FIBA Americas Championship in 2004.

Parker also earned gold at the USA World University Games Team in 2005.

Professional Impact

Parker’s professional basketball career has always been stellar. Drafted No. 1 overall in the 2008 WNBA draft by the Los Angeles Sparks, she set it off as the WNBA Rookie of the Year.

She also made the WNBA All-Rookie Team in 2008 and was the WNBA Most Valuable Player in her rookie year.

On June 22, 2008, Parker became the second woman in WNBA history to dunk during a regulation WNBA game. The dunk came against the Indiana Fever after her teammate Lisa Leslie was the first on July 30, 2002.

Parker also received her first Olympic gold medal in her rookie year at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She would achieve another in the 2012 London Olympics.

Parker was a WNBA All-Star for five seasons (2011, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018) and the WNBA All-Star game MVP in 2013.

She was All-WNBA First Team for five seasons (2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2020) and All-WNBA Second Team (2009, 2015, 2018).

She reached 1,300 total career assists and is the 14th all-time. She also is 14th in scoring of all-time after passing DeLisha Milton-Jones in 2020. Parker also passed DeLisha Milton-Jones for 12th all-time in field goals made in 2020.

Parker became an unrestricted free agent in 2021, leaving the Sparks after 13 seasons and one championship win in 2016. She signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Sky in the hunt to be a hometown champion.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.