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WNBA great Candace Parker announces retirement after 16 seasons

By Homero De la Fuente, CNN

(CNN) — Three-time WNBA champion Candace Parker announced her retirement in a post on social media Sunday.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 WNBA draft played 16 seasons in the league with the Los Angeles Sparks, Chicago Sky and the Las Vegas Aces.

“I promised I’d never cheat the game & that I’d leave it in a better place than I came into it,” Parker said on Instagram. “The competitor in me always wants 1 more, but it’s time. My HEART & body knew, but I needed to give my mind time to accept it.

“This offseason hasn’t been fun on a foot that isn’t cooperating. It’s no fun playing in pain (10 surgeries in my career) it’s no fun knowing what you could do, if only…it’s no fun hearing ‘she isn’t the same’ when I know why, it’s no fun accepting the fact you need surgery AGAIN.”

The two-time WNBA MVP retires as a two-time Olympic gold medalist. The 38-year-old was named to the league’s Top 20 at 20 and W25 teams, a collection of the 25 greatest and most influential players in WNBA history. During her career, Parker was a 10-time All-WNBA honoree and seven-time WNBA All-Star.

She led the Sparks to 11 playoff appearances in her 13 seasons with the franchise, culminating in a WNBA championship in 2016. In her first year, Parker became the first player in WNBA history to be named the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season in 2008.

She returned to her hometown team in 2021, signing with the Sky as a free agent and leading the team to its first-ever WNBA championship in the first of two seasons with the franchise.

Following her stint with the Sky, Parker joined the Aces where she helped the team to a 16-2 record before being sidelined for the remainder of the championship-winning season with a foot injury.

“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,” the Aces said in a statement.

“Although the majority of her career was played in opposing uniforms, we were blessed to have her as part of our championship team a year ago. We are saddened that she won’t be a part of our three-peat aspirations, but we look forward to welcoming Candace back to Las Vegas as an Aces alum, and we can’t wait to see what the next chapter in her life has to offer.”

During her collegiate career, Parker led the Tennessee Lady Vols to two NCAA national championship titles, in 2007 and 2008. She was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player for both championship runs.

Most recently, Parker has worked as an analyst and commentator with Warner Bros. Discovery, including NBA on TNT, NBA TV and NCAA Tournament coverage.

“I fell in love with a little orange ball at 13 years old and BECAUSE of it my world goes ‘round,” Parker said. “The highs are unmatched & the lows taught me lessons. On & off the court I’m proud I’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.”

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