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WNBA star Candace Parker announces retirement after 16 seasons

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(NEW YORK) — Two-time WNBA MVP and three-time WNBA champion Candace Parker announced her retirement Sunday.

“I’m retiring,” Parker wrote in a lengthy Instagram message detailing her career and plans for her future.

Parker’s message covered her mindset behind her decision to retire from basketball after most recently joining the Las Vegas Aces in 2023.

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

Parker’s many career accomplishments include being the first WNBA player in history to win a championship with three different teams and winning two NCAA Championships in 2007 and 2008 while in college at University of Tennessee.

Parker is also a two-time Olympic Gold medalist.

She described the final game she played in 2023 in her farewell message.

“I always wanted to walk off the court with no parade or tour, just privately with the ones I love. What now was to be my last game, I walked off the court with my daughter. I ended the journey just as I started it, with her,” Parker wrote.

The Las Vegas Aces also posted a congratulatory message for Parker.

“We can’t wait to see what the next chapter in her life has to offer. Thanks for the memories, Candace,” read a portion of the message from the team.

In addition to being a star basketball player, Parker spoke out often on her life balancing motherhood with professional sports. In an Instagram post last year, Parker detailed her commitment to motherhood: “Being a mom is THE most important aspect of who I identify as. No matter how many hats I may wear, being a mom always IS NUMBER 1!”

In her retirement post, Parker highlighted her insistence on staying genuine to who she is throughout her career, and expressed gratitude for those who helped her along the way.

“I fell in love with a little orange ball at 13 years old and BECAUSE of it my world goes ‘round. 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,” she wrote. “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.”

Parker said that now that her basketball career is over, she is planning to pursue opportunities in business, including private equity, team ownership, broadcasting, production and more with “the same intensity & focus I did basketball.”

She concluded with a message to current WNBA players: “Today’s players: ENJOY IT. No matter how you prepare for it, you won’t be ready for the gap it leaves in your soul. Forgive me as I mourn a bit, but I’ll be back loving the game differently in a while.”

Parker included farewell lyrics from the song “Dear Summer” by Jay-Z and Memphis Bleek in her sign off.

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