WNBA Icon Candace Parker Announces Retirement After 16 Seasons

The 38-year-old pro baller said, “I’m grateful that for 16 years I played a game for a living and despite all the injuries, I hooped.”

WNBA star Candace Parker said it’s time to retire from basketball. Parker recently announced on social media in a very long and heartfelt caption that she’s leaving the court after 16 seasons in the league. 

"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 captioned in an Instagram post, alongside a photo of herself as a young child, holding a basketball in her hands. "My heart and body knew, but I needed to give my mind time to accept it."

Last year, Parker suffered a foot injury that required surgery, and she was sidelined for the season. 

The long caption continued, “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 shared that her offseason showed her that her pain wasn’t subsiding. She said she’s been operating on a foot that’s not cooperating. “It’s no fun playing in pain (10 surgeries in my career) it’s no fun knowing what you could do, if only…it’s no fun hearing “she isn’t the same” when I know why, it’s no fun accepting the fact you need surgery AGAIN,” Parker revealed.

She was 13 when she fell in love with basketball, and it became her entire world. Now, Parker will be finding out who she is outside of the sport that has taught her major life lessons and given her unmatched highs. She continued, “On and off the court, I’m proud I’ve always been true and stayed true to ME, even when it wasn’t popular. I’m grateful that for 16 years, I played a game for a living, and despite all the injuries, I hooped.”

The caption also clued fans into Parker’s plans after leaving the game as a player. She’ll still be around the courts. She shared, “In the meantime, know I’m a business, man, not a businessman. This is the beginning…I’m attacking business, private equity, ownership (I will own both a NBA & WNBA team), broadcasting, production, boardrooms, beach volleyball, dominoes (sorry babe it’s going to get more real) with the same intensity and focus I did basketball.”

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She’s got plans! On top of Parker’s full list of to-do’s, she also plans to prioritize her roles as wife and mother. The former baller has a 2-year-old son, Airr, with her wife, Anna Petrakova, and she has a 14-year-old daughter, Lailaa, from a previous relationship. Parker and Petrakova are expecting baby three this spring!

She ended her retirement caption by urging today’s players to “enjoy it.” She said, “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.”

It’s obvious that Parker has always been dedicated. Check the stats. She’s one of the most decorated athletes in WNBA history. Parker was the No. 1 draft pick to the Los Angeles Sparks in 2008, right after she won NCAA titles in 2007 and 2008 playing for the University of Tennessee Lady Vols.

As a star forward, Parker won two Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012 and has been named Rookie of the Year, MVP and All-Star multiple times each. Parker played her last professional WNBA game on July 7, 2023. After that, she was sidelined because of her foot injury. Good for Parker for prioritizing her wellness and family!

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