#ThankYouCandace: What could Candace Parker’s second act look like? 

Photo Credit: Lamar Carter

It was the Instagram post heard around the world – Candace Parker after such a storied career in the game of basketball was retiring from the sport. 

This will take some getting used to for many fans of the WNBA – a WNBA that is indeed growing but will no longer see Parker on the court in uniform. 

With a resume that includes three WNBA championships with three different teams, two NCAA national championships with the Tennessee Lady Vols, two Olympic gold medals, seven All-Star appearances and countless other achievements, Parker has certainly left an indelible impact on the sport. 

Her impact was not only felt in the level of greatness she brought to the game and how she left it better than when she found it. It was also in the cultural impact Parker had on the game. 

It is often discussed after someone of Parker’s stature retires as to what their “second act” could resemble. Sue Bird who retired two seasons ago is giving us glimpses as to what a noteworthy “second act” resembles given her various ventures – including Togethxr and A Touch More. She also recently became part of the Seattle Storm’s ownership group. 

As for Parker, we already know one element of that act. In the last few seasons, Parker has brought her basketball knowledge with her to TNT and NBA TV with coverage of the men’s association as well as men’s March Madness. As a now retired hoops great, Parker will certainly have plenty of additional time for media ventures. 

What many within the women’s sports space are intrigued by are the possibilities that Parker may be interested in expanding her ownership portfolio. Said portfolio already includes one venture – Angel City FC of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). 

In her Instagram post that served as her farewell to on-court play, Parker did mention wanting to be a WNBA/NBA team owner. Let us start with the NBA possibilities before delving into the WNBA possibilities. On the NBA side, she may decide to invest into one of the two Los Angeles teams (Lakers or Clippers) or maybe the Chicago Bulls or maybe the Memphis Grizzlies given that they are the lone NBA team in Tennessee. 

Now, we can get into the WNBA possibilities. Think about two of the teams that Parker brought championships to – the Los Angeles Sparks and Chicago Sky. Where the Sparks and Sky are now is a far distance from where they were when Parker wore her signature No. 3 for both franchises. 

Both teams claimed noteworthy draft picks earlier this month with Los Angeles selecting Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson and Chicago drafting Kamilla Cardoso plus Angel Reese. Both Los Angeles and Chicago are not only rebuilding, but have been much maligned for being behind in the facilities battle that has ensued throughout the WNBA. 

If Parker were to expand her investment portfolio to include either the Sparks or Sky, it would be a huge financial boost to either franchise which could sorely use the money for improved facilities. Los Angeles and Chicago are the second and third largest media markets in the country, respectively. There is no excuse for the teams in those markets to be outspent by teams such as the Las Vegas Aces, Phoenix Mercury, Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm simply because owners such as Mark Davis, Mat Ishbia, Glen Taylor and Force 10 Hoops are investing more money into their teams.

Also – with Nashville being one of the cities that has been mentioned for possible WNBA expansion, could Parker be interested in that prospective effort to bring the W to the state that molded her for pro success? 

There has also been a suggestion that the WNBA name the Rookie of the Year award after Parker in honor of her 2008 rookie season where she not only claimed said award but was also named regular season MVP. 

Only time will tell what the full scope of Parker’s next moves will be as she transitions into life after the WNBA – and only she knows as it should be. It is certain that she will indeed have plenty of opportunities to speak poetically (either in a studio or in front of large crowds) about her time in the game and how she sees the game of basketball currently.

We know something else that will be part of that second act – a pair of Hall of Fame speeches. Parker will be a first-ballot Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer in Springfield, Massachusetts but something tells us it will be the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame speech she will make that will be particularly special. 

Because the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee is located a hop, skip and a jump from the very same University of Tennessee where she became a nationwide collegiate household name under Pat Summitt with the Lady Vols. She was already a big name nationally even as a high school prospect coming out of Naperville Central. Everyone knew Parker would put herself in the history books.

Naperville. Knoxville. Los Angeles. Chicago. Las Vegas. Only she knows what is next in her journey as she transitions from playing the game to giving back to the game. But we are sure she will take the same approach that she did to basketball which means to leave it better than when she found it and to bring a winning attitude to whatever she does. 

Thank. You. Candace.