WNBA’s Parker, daugh­ter a ‘pack­age deal’ in Florida

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By MELISSA MUR­PHY

Can­dace Parker and her 11-year-old daugh­ter are brav­ing the start of an un­prece­dented WNBA sea­son to­gether in Florida.

The Los An­ge­les Sparks All-Star knows it’s a cal­cu­lated risk to stay in the Coro­n­avirus hot spot, where all 12 teams will play games in the WNBA “bub­ble” of Braden­ton.

“We’re a pack­age deal,” said Parker, who ar­rived with Lailaa for train­ing camp at the IMG Academy last week for a sea­son that starts July 25. “One GM in the NBA said this can be the great­est of ideas, go­ing to the bub­ble, or it can be cat­a­strophic.

“I don’t know if there’s an in be­tween. Ob­vi­ously, every­body go­ing in would be tak­ing a chance, but I’m hop­ing ev­ery­thing works out.”

The league al­lowed play­ers to take their chil­dren with them to stay in­side the bub­ble. Play­ers can have a care­taker to help with daily du­ties.

So far, seven of 137 WNBA play­ers have tested pos­i­tive for the Coro­n­avirus. Parker calls the pos­i­tive tests “in­evitable” and says it’s about “mak­ing sure it doesn’t spread.”

This sea­son, play­ers are spread­ing the word about var­i­ous WNBA so­cial jus­tice ini­tia­tives.

Play­ers will wear warmup T-shirts with the words “Black Lives Mat­ter” on the front and “Say Her Name” on the back. That’s a ref­er­ence to women of color who have died af­ter al­leged po­lice ac­tions.

The new player-led WNBA So­cial Jus­tice Coun­cil will work in com­mu­ni­ties to ad­dress sys­temic racism by en­gag­ing with ed­u­ca­tors,

ac­tivists and busi­ness lead­ers.

The Sparks re­cently launched the “Change Has No Off­sea­son” cam­paign, which adds voter reg­is­tra­tion and im­mi­gra­tion re­form to the team’s ex­ist­ing ef­forts around men­tal health and po­lice re­la­tions.

Parker nar­rates a two-minute video that fea­tures WNBA play­ers on the court, demon­stra­tors around the coun­try in the streets and con­ver­sa­tions with new league Com­mis­sioner Cathy En­gel­bert.

“But just as hard as we push our bod­ies and minds on the court, we must push just as hard for change in so­ci­ety,” Parker says in the video. “There is no off­sea­son in the pur­suit of jus­tice.”

The 34-year-old Parker, a two-time NCAA cham­pion at Ten­nessee, 2016 WNBA cham­pion and Fi­nals MVP, stays busy in the off­sea­son as a stu­dio an­a­lyst for NBA games on TNT and NBA TV. She’s also ad­vo­cat­ing for more women in lead­er­ship po­si­tions and re­cently took part in a panel dis­cus­sion about sports par­tic­i­pa­tion for girls of color on the 48th an­niver­sary of Ti­tle IX, spon­sored by the Women’s Sports Foun­da­tion.

Parker said dis­cus­sions have been on­go­ing with the league about women in lead­er­ship po­si­tions such as coaches, gen­eral man­agers and team pres­i­dents.

“For a league that’s 80% women of color with zero African Amer­i­can coaches, I don’t know if it’s a co­in­ci­dence,” Parker said. “I think we’re a league that does get out in the com­mu­nity and talks about so­cial jus­tice re­form and speaks about and posts dur­ing Pride Month and Green Week. At the end of the day, we need to back it up with ac­tions.”

Parker says she car­ries the lessons of late Ten­nessee coach Pat Sum­mitt with her.

“Ev­ery­thing I do — whether it’s par­ent­ing, whether it’s be­ing a team­mate, a daugh­ter, a friend, sis­ter — ev­ery­thing re­flects as a dis­ci­ple of her. She walked the walk. You can’t re­ally sum up her teach­ing. It’s in ev­ery­thing I do.”

As­so­ci­ated Press

FAM­ILY TIME In this Sept. 29, 2017, file photo, Sparks for­ward Can­dace Parker holds her daugh­ter Lailaa Ni­cole Wil­liams af­ter Game 3 of the WNBA Fi­nals against the Min­nesota Lynx in Los An­ge­les. The Sparks won 75-64. Parker and her 11-yearold daugh­ter are brav­ing the start of an un­prece­dented WNBA sea­son to­gether in Florida.

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