When first I heard that Candace Parker was considering leaving at the University of Tennessee to enter the WNBA Draft, I was shocked.
I’ll freely admit that I didn’t know too much about Parker or her situation back then. My knowledge of her was basically limited to her ability to dunk, the fact that she’s pretty, and her purchase of parts of the Hartford Civic Center and the University of Connecticut.
I didn’t know she was engaged to former Duke star and newly minted Sacramento King Shelden Williams. I had no idea she was as smart, charming, and sensible as she comes off. And I certainly had no idea the Wu shouted her out in a song.
So she’s cool, smart, pretty, can dunk, is engaged to another roundballer, and she killed UConn once.
But it’s important to check the skills, too. Parker’s got a laundry list of basketball bona fides, too, including an NCAA Championship with Tennessee and a Wooden Award, and she’s averaging 20 and almost 9 on a star-packed Tennessee squad. She’s a combo of Kevin Garnett and Chris Paul with a bra, a lethal outside shooter with a sick post game and clever passing skills to match.
And all that, coupled with the news of the redshirt junior’s impending graduation at the end of this season, is why going pro now makes sense.
There are no fortunes to be made in the WNBA, as Wikipedia points out. But with a husband who’s pulling down NBA money, does Parker really need extra? Besides, should her career skyrocket, as it has the potential to do in the professional ranks, isn’t she going to be counting more of Nike or adidas or Gatorade’s zeros than her hubby before long, anyway?
Parker will, barring the entire Los Angeles Sparks office coming down with SARS, be selected with the first pick in this year’s NBA Draft, and she’ll team with Lisa Leslie to form what should be one of the most dominant front lines in the history of basketball. And she, barring ingestion of tainted meat, either of American or Chinese origin, will be one of the leaders of the U.S. women’s basketball team at this year’s Olympic Games, heading up what, if the general public watched women’s basketball, would be regarded as the true Dream Team.
And that’s because Candace Parker is The Truth, a pastiche of charisma, talent, aesthetics, and sincerity.
Everyone who’s wanted the next Michael Jordan has just been looking in the wrong place.
Good luck, Candace. I’m rooting for you.