Candace Parker’s impact on the WNBA – and women’s basketball as a whole – cannot be understated.

As one of the greatest WNBA players of all time, Parker continually evolved the game and showed how women’s basketball could be as entertaining and competitive as the NBA. Parker’s impact is clear to all those in basketball, including recent draft pick and college basketball star Angel Reese.

Shortly after the news of the 38-year-old’s retirement reverberated around the basketball world, Reese explained why she chose her number – No. 5 – as a member of the Chicago Sky. Initially, she wanted to wear No. 3 to pay homage to the basketball legend. However, she soon concluded that Parker’s number would be retired by the Sky and the teams she played for during her time in the WNBA.

“I’ve always watched Candace Parker,” said Reese. “I mean she’s been an amazing player, a big guard, I’ve always admired her. When I came here, since I couldn’t get 10, I wanted to get 3, but I was like, ‘Wait, Candace is going to get her jersey retired very soon.’

“So I knew she was going to get her jersey retired soon because she’s an amazing player, amazing mom, amazing person and she’s always been super inspiring to me. So, I will always love her and watch her game.”

Since being drafted No. 1 overall in the 2008 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks, Parker has led her team to success, helping the Sparks win the 2016 title over the Minnesota Lynx. Parker then spent two seasons with the Sky, beating the Phoenix Mercury in the 2021 WNBA Finals, winning Chicago’s first basketball championship since 1998.

Candace Parker #3 of the Las Vegas Aces brings the ball up the court against the Indiana Fever in the fourth quarter of their game at Michelob ULTRA Arena on June 24, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Aces defeated the Fever 101-88
Parker’s legendary career has come to an end after she announced her retirement 

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The three-time WNBA champion announced her retirement from professional basketball Sunday due to injury concerns. In 2023, Parker fractured her foot, underwent surgery in July and struggled to stay healthy despite the Las Vegas Aces winning the 2023 title over the New York Liberty.

In her retirement post, Parker made it clear that her inability to get over her foot injury played a big part in her decision to call it quits on her WNBA career. “I promised I’d never cheat the game & that I’d leave it in a better place than I came into it,” Parker’s statement on social media said. “The competitor in me always wants 1 more, but it’s time. My HEART & body knew, but I needed to give my mind time to accept it.

“This offseason hasn’t been fun on a foot that isn’t 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.

“My mission in life, like Pat Summitt always said, is to ‘chase people and passions and you will never fail’. Being a wife & mom still remains priority #1 & I’ve learned that time flies, so I plan to enjoy my family to the fullest! Today’s players: ENJOY IT.

“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.”

The 2024 WNBA season is set to tip off on May 14. And while rookies like Reese will be chomping at the bit to get started, it will be bittersweet knowing Parker will not be there to suit up.