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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Candace Parker Wants WNBA Players to Become Team Owners

  • Parker would “love to be a part of ownership groups” beyond her stake in NWSL club Angel City.
  • “I think this rush of player empowerment definitely stems from NIL,” the WNBA legend says.
WNBA legend understands "the importance and power of ownership from the player's level."
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker has her eye on team ownership as she embarks on the twilight of her playing career. Now in her 16th season, Parker intends to build upon her ownership portfolio, including a stake in NWSL club Angel City FC.

“I would love to be a part of ownership groups — and obviously in Angel City — but I hope that’s just the start of things,” Parker told FOS while promoting Muscle Milk’s Lifting Project to build outdoor fitness courts in underserved communities. “When I’m done playing, I’m gonna continue to show up, support, and be a part of [the WNBA].”

Parker, who plays for the first-place superteam Las Vegas Aces, wants WNBA players to become owners in WNBA teams akin to how retired NBA players have acquired stakes in NBA teams. Examples at one time or another have included Michael Jordan (Charlotte Hornets), Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers), Shaquille O’Neal (Sacramento Kings), Grant Hill (Atlanta Hawks), and Dwyane Wade (Utah Jazz).

“I understand the importance and the power of ownership from the player’s level. I know Michael Jordan just sold his stake, but how important was it that he was a part of the ownership group,” Parker said. “I think that [NBA commissioner] Adam Silver definitely wants to continue that. And I hope in the WNBA we’re able to have other WNBA owners be a part of it as well because I think it just adds to the value of the WNBA. Just as having players that are coaches adds to the value of the WNBA.”

Wade, who retired from the NBA in 2019, has shown interest in buying a stake in the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, where Parker played the previous two seasons. The NBA’s new CBA lets active NBA players invest in NBA and WNBA teams. The Seattle Storm are reported to be the most-valuable WNBA team at $151 million.

“Looking at the NBA, back in the day, they made it important for players to be coaches, and now they want players to be a part of ownership groups. And I know that the WNBA is gonna be similar in that there’s a power in having voices that have been players,” Parker said. 

Parker also plans to expand her broadcasting career, having been an analyst for NBA on TNT since 2018. In February, she became the first female in-game color commentator for the NBA All-Star Game.

“I would love to continue my television career and do more than just sports. I would love to kind of broaden outside, maybe into news, à la Michael Strahan.”

Parker’s defending champion Aces became the first WNBA team earlier this year to move into its own practice facility. Parker said that Aces owner Mark Davis, who also owns the NFL’s Raiders, is “raising the bar constantly” for bettering the WNBA and player resources. NFL legend Tom Brady recently bought minority stakes in the Aces and Raiders.

“I’m obviously a huge fan,” Parker said of Brady. “And as an older player, a huge respect to what he was able to do for as long as he did it. Also, from the business side of me, to see what [Brady’s] doing now, I know he’s gonna transition into media as well—the different businesses that he’s trying to do is super inspirational for me.”

As WNBA players fight for benefits such as charter flights and a larger share of league revenue, Parker credits the college NIL revolution for empowering WNBA players.

“I truly believe that money is power,” Parker said. “And so when you have athletes that come in and know their worth, I think it not only raises their bar and their standard, but it also raises the league and the expectations that you play for. I think that this rush of player empowerment definitely stems from NIL. A hundred percent.”

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