The WNBA Wins With Return Of Candace Parker

Parker’s presence enhances the visibility of the WNBA both on and off the court.

Injuries have slowed down the LA Sparks early in this WNBA season and none bigger than the loss of franchise player Candace Parker.

Parker injured her left hamstring during the first quarter of the Sparks’ preseason game on May 11 in Phoenix.

She exited the game immediately, sat out the second game of the preseason, and missed the first seven contests of the regular season as the talented Sparks gutted out a 4-3 record.

Given the team’s depth in the frontcourt and the amazing play of the Ogwumike sisters, plus the steady improvement of guard Chelsea Gray,  Los Angeles has been able to allow her Parker to rehab at a measured pace. However, the WNBA was missing one of its marquee faces. Parker starts her 12th season needing seven points to pass Swin Cash for 17th place on the WNBA’s career scoring list. 

On Tuesday night, Parker returned to the court for head coach Derek Fisher in an 81-52 loss to the Washington Mystics. Parker had just three points on 1-of-9 shooting in 25 minutes and was obviously rusty, but she has all-world skills and will get back into the flow eventually as the season progresses.

Basketball game aside, Parker’s return meant just as much to the health, wealth and visibility of the WNBA.

Since becoming the first full-time woman on “Players Only” and a lead analyst for Turner Sports, Candace Parker’s celebrity and the respect for her basketball acumen has gone through the roof.

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She’s also become the WNBA’s Oprah, equipped with a captivating TV presence and universal relatability, whose performance on the court and notoriety off of it creates a level of celebrity that exceeds all players in the league.

The WNBA has a revamped brand, a new attitude and an all-inclusive vision for the future. Parker’s presence as the only woman on a male-dominated basketball show directly reflects the WNBA’s growth, the barriers it continues to shatter and opportunities it continues to create for women in the sports and entertainment industry.

Being a part of the most popular NBA media platform in existence has allowed the hoops world to see Parker’s full personality and she is already a pioneering voice for women in sports broadcasting.  

The two-time WNBA MVP and World Champion has undoubtedly picked up some more male sports fans during her TNT stint as she exchanges jokes and hoops knowledge with a crop of legends, including Chris Webber, Shaq, Kenny Smith, and Baron Davis among others. 

Despite a 4-4 record, the Sparks are still just ½ came out in the Western Conference with 24 games to go in the season. With Parker back in the fold, the Sparks should elevate up the standings and attract the attention of hoops heads who want to get a glimpse of the NBA announcer that also happens to be one of the greatest WNBA players of all-time.

It’s a win-win for the league.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.