NAPERVILLE, IL — Candace Parker has always taken a cool, calm, collected, and calculated approach to decision-making and so after a heartbreaking loss Thursday night that ended to Chicago Sky’s season, Parker’s process of deciding whether to return to the WNBA will be no different.
In two seasons with the Sky, the 36-year-old Naperville native and former league MVP has won a championship and helped lead Chicago back to the league semifinals. The Sky appeared on the verge of returning to the championship round before an 18-0 scoring run by the Connecticut Sun in the closing minutes of Thursday night’s deciding Game 5 changed everything.
The loss not only left the Sky short of getting the chance to become the first team in 20 years to repeat as WNBA champions but also left Parker with a choice of whether she will continue her career or retire. After such a disappointing loss at home Thursday night, Parker said now is not the time to make that decision.
Parker, who starred at Naperville Central, just completed her 15th WNBA season. She averaged 13.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game for the Sky and had hoped to capture another championship. But after the Sun’s decisive fourth-quarter run stunned the Sky and their fans Thursday night at Wintrust Arena, it left a lot of questions surrounding what Chicago’s roster will look like next season.
That includes Parker, who said she will need time to weigh her options become committing to anything.
“I’ve always said it will never be an emotional decision,” Parker said Friday on a Zoom call with reporters. “It’s going to be one of those things when I know I can’t prepare to play where I can’t be at a certain level to play, I’ll know in that moment, and I haven’t even started thinking about next year or preparing for next year.”
Parker said after Thursday’s loss that she never wants to cheat the game and said she would be doing so to come back for another season if she doesn’t feel good about doing it. Parker’s decision of whether comes back — not only to Chicago but to professional basketball — comes after saying at one point she would never leave Los Angeles, where she spent the first 13 years of her playing career.
But after leaving the Sparks to return to the city where she grew up outside of Chicago and helped lead the Sky to her first WNBA title, Parker said she will take her time and make a decision that won’t go back on any rush decisions.
She said Friday that she is grateful for the number of years she has been able to play in the WNBA, but said she needs time to process where she stands. The idea of leaving on a note that comes from a bitter loss like Thursday’s isn’t likely to impact her decision given her approach to not allowing emotions to enter the equation.
She said she will need a long time to make peace with the way the season ended and said that she tends to remember all of the details of losses more so than victories. She remembers winning her first league title in Los Angeles and wondering if it should have felt sweeter, but said she is just wired to take losses harder than she allows herself to enjoy wins – even ones that result in a league title.
But Parker said when the time comes to decide, she will know what direction is right.
“I’m at a point now where the wounds are fresh, the loss is fresh,” Parker said Friday. “Everything is fresh. So I love the organization? yes Do I love the people who are part of the organization? yes Do I love the city? Do I love playing in front of my parents, my family, my friends? yes So that decision will come in time.”