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Aces star, WNBA legend announces retirement: ‘She changed the game’

Updated April 29, 2024 - 7:21 pm

The Las Vegas Aces held their first training camp practice Sunday without one of the most recognizable faces from last year’s team.

Forward Candace Parker, one of the WNBA’s all-time greats, announced her retirment on her Instagram account Sunday morningg. The Aces confirmed Parker’s decision on social media.

“The Las Vegas Aces family is thankful for the role Candace played in the 2023 WNBA championship season and for giving all of us the opportunity to watch one of the GOATs of the game over the past two decades,” the team said in a statement on X.

Parker played 16 years in the WNBA and leaves as one of the sport’s most decorated stars. She won two MVPs (2008 and 2013), two Olympic gold medals (2008 and 2012), three WNBA titles (20016, 2021 and 2023) and was a seven-time All-Star.

“Candace is one of the greatest basketball players you’ve ever seen, men or women,” Aces guard Kelsey Plum said. “It’s unfortunate that it had to end the way that it did, but her legacy and what she’s done for the game, there’s no one like her.”

‘Changed the game’

Aces forward A’ja Wilson said Sunday that Parker’s retirement was a “gut punch” and that it’ll be “crazy” to not have her in the WNBA.

“She has done so much for this league. She’s given so much to this league and this team,” Wilson said. “I’m just honored to say I was her teammate and I can share the court with her. It’s been a great journey for her and she will forever be my GOAT.”

Parker, 38, averaged nine points per game in 18 appearances her lone season with the Aces. She underwent foot surgery in July and didn’t play the rest of the year as the team went on to win its second consecutive WNBA title.

“Even though we only got a short stint with her, she went out with a championship,” Plum said. “She was a big part of what we did last year.”

The Aces re-signed Parker to a one-year contract in February, but she wrote in an Instagram post it was time for her to walk away.

“This offseason hasn’t been fun on a foot that isn’t cooperating” and “it’s no fun playing in pain,” she wrote.

“I promised I’d never cheat the game and that I’d leave it in a better place than I came into it,” Parker wrote.

Aces coach Becky Hammon said Parker’s decision was “bittersweet.”

Hammon was looking forward to having Parker on the team this year, but she said she could also relate to what Parker was going through. Hammon herself played 16 WNBA seasons.

“Your body tells you when it’s time. It’s not even your mind or heart saying it. It’s your body,” Hammon said. “You’re not going to replace (Parker), not on this team or in the world of women’s basketball. She changed the game.”

First day of camp

Parker’s retirement does open up a roster spot for one of the Aces’ newcomers.

The team added four players in the WNBA draft earlier this month: Syracuse guard Dyaisha Fair, Iowa guard Kate Martin, Virginia Tech center Elizabeth Kitley and Jackson State center Angel Jackson.

Those four give the Aces 16 players in training camp, although Kitley will miss the season with a torn ACL. They need to trim that number to 12 before their season opener May 14 against the Phoenix Mercury.

Fair was the Aces’ first selection at No. 16 overall. The 5-foot-5 guard is third on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list behind Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and Plum.

“They’re just letting me know that I can be myself and what it’s going to take to get through (training camp),” Fair said. “Not only get through it but grow through it as well. My biggest thing right now is being open to growth and change.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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