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Monday, May 20, 2024

Candace Parker Leaves Basketball to Go All In on Business

  • The legend is hanging up her sneakers after 16 seasons in the WNBA.
  • She announced she will focus on a business career, which she’s already been shaping with broadcasting and investments.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Candace Parker announced her retirement Sunday after a legendary 16-year WNBA career that included three championships with three different franchises and two MVP awards. Now the two-time Olympic gold medalist is the latest athlete diving headfirst into a business career.

“In the mean time, know IM A BUSINESS, man, not a businessman,” Parker posted on social media, referencing the iconic Jay-Z line. “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 & focus I did basketball.”

Since 2018, Parker has been building her media presence off the court, doing analysis and commentary for NBA on TNT, March Madness, and NBA TV. She’s also been an active investor, tying her name to League One Volleyball, a meal delivery service connecting local chefs with customers, a company focused on equity in the workplace, and two collectibles companies, one marketplace and one content platform, the second of which was partially launched by Alexis Ohanian’s venture firm Seven Seven Six.

Ohanian, a prominent women’s sports investor, hinted about future business collaborations with Parker as he praised her basketball and business careers on social media. Given his wife Serena Williams’s recent comment about being open to owning a WNBA franchise, coupled with Parker’s stated intention to do the same, speculation flurried around Ohanian’s post about the trio potentially buying or starting a WNBA team. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said at the draft that she wants to add four new teams in the “next few years,” and with only the Bay Area set to receive an expansion team, several cities are still hopeful.

Parker isn’t alone as an athlete who began shaping a business career before her playing career ended, especially among WNBA players. Sue Bird founded the media company Togethxr with other top female athletes before her retirement. Diana Taurasi, a WNBA player since 2004, hosts a women’s Final Four alt-cast on ESPN alongside Bird. Active WNBA player Chiney Ogwumike is an ESPN basketball analyst for the NBA and women’s college basketball, gaining notoriety as part of the beloved trio covering the women’s game alongside Elle Duncan and Andraya Carter. Aliyah Boston, Caitlin Clark’s new teammate on the Indiana Fever, served as a women’s college basketball analyst for March Madness and the WNBA draft.

Bird recently joined the ownership group of the Seattle Storm, where she spent her entire WNBA career. Should Parker follow the same model, she’d be considering the Los Angeles Sparks, where she spent most of her time in the league, or her hometown team of the Chicago Sky, where she played two seasons.

As far as her reference to playing dominoes, not much is known about Parker’s future intentions. She told The Athletic in 2022: “I just wanted to compete at everything whether it was dominos or beach volleyball. That’s my mentality because I hate losing.”

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