WNBA Free Agency started a bit earlier this week when we first got word of rumors of Candace Parker leaving the LA Sparks. At first, I did not believe it because there are so many rumors over the years over free agents possibly leaving or not, among other things. But, when Candace Parker’s agency tweeted out that big things were coming, I started to take notice. Then the ESPN article came out. And suddenly, it was real. Candace Parker was headed to the Chicago Sky. The news, ironically came out when I was watching the WNBA General Managers chat with the AP writer, Doug Feinberg. Both the Chicago and LA General Managers were apart of the video call. It was awkward, to say the least.
Then, I started to actually process the news. LA was going to be different. There was going to be a new franchise player. The team would be different. It was overwhelming. I am not a Sparks fan. But, I know several of them. I know how hurt they are feeling. I know it goes much deeper and that there is no love lost for the head coach/GM Derek Fisher.
For me, the news hit me on a personal level. You see, I became a fan of the WNBA through Candace Parker. I saw Candace Parker’s national championship game, I saw her get drafted, I saw her have the best rookie debut in WNBA history, I saw her have an immediate impact with the Sparks. I saw Lisa Leslie making sure that Candace Parker was going to take over from her as the new franchise player. I remember vividly seeing Lisa Leslie on the court, making sure that her rookie was growing and learning everyday. Lisa Leslie was proud of Candace Parker, there’s no doubt in my mind about that.
I did not stay as a Sparks fan for very long, I transitioned into a fan of the San Antonio Stars (before they became the Las Vegas Aces). But, I still kept tabs on the Sparks, specifically Candace Parker. I remember her dunks, double doubles, MVP’s, championship run and her becoming an analyst on the NBA side. Her daughter Lailaa is apart of the Sparks too. She also has history with the Sparks organization from when she was a little baby.
Over the years, Candace Parker grew up. So did I. I became a fan of the WNBA when I was 18 years old and now I am a fully grown woman. But, I still identify with Candace Parker as the reason for my introduction to the WNBA and now seeing her change teams after so many years, strikes a chord with me. It’s going to be so different. Candace Parker is home. She is in Chicago. Not in LA. It’s still weird to me. She will officially sign with the Chicago Sky on Monday. I bet the Sky will hold a news conference to introduce her. A number of Chicago TV/print/radio outlets will be interviewing her on Monday. Still feels so weird.
I know this is selfishness talking, but I really did want to see Candace Parker retire as a LA Spark. I wanted her to end her career in LA. But, I am not Candace Parker. Candace Parker knows what she wanted and this time, she wanted the Chicago Sky. I’m going to have to learn to like it. I hope the Chicago Sky do win a title with Parker. Some of the great fans are Chicago Sky fans and they have been through A LOT and they deserve some good times too.
This WNBA season will either played in a bubble or in arenas, most likely without fans. I bet the Sky broadcasts will be one of the top viewed and a bunch of their games will be on ESPN. Watch. Tune in. Support the league. I, just like all of the other LA natives/fans/people will just have to get used to seeing Candace Parker in a Sky uniform. I may cry, honestly. But, I hope she does have a good debut and that the team excels with her on the court and off the court (business wise).
Good luck, Candace Parker. I wish you all the best.