Lady Vols great Candace Parker leaving hometown Chicago Sky to sign with Las Vegas Aces
Candace Parker has made a decision.
There is finally an answer about the two-time WNBA champion's future after months of speculation. The former Tennessee star is signing with the reigning WNBA champions, the Las Vegas Aces. Parker, 36, implied before the 2022 season that it might be her last, but on a podcast in November, she said she was game for another year.
She's reuniting with former Los Angeles Sparks teammate Chelsea Gray, who has been with the Aces since 2021 and was named the WNBA Finals MVP during the 2022 title run. Parker and Gray won their first WNBA title together in 2016. Aces president is Nikki Fargas, who played for the Lady Vols and was an assistant when Parker played for UT.
Parker made the announcement on Instagram, saying the decision was best for her family as well as where she can compete for a third WNBA title. The Aces are coached by Hall of Fame coach Becky Hammon, who won a title last year in her first season coaching in the WNBA.
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"My family is my reason and my purpose," Parker wrote. "They have given me the greatest joys I've ever experienced and continue to show me new levels of love and devotion I never knew existed ... As I've gone through free agency this time around, of course I'm thinking of where I can compete for my third championship, but the words home and family are what I kept coming back to.
"After evaluating the landscape together with my family, we've decided the Las Vegas Aces are the right organization for us at this point in our lives."
Parker's oldest child, Lailaa, is starting high school in the fall and in Parker's post, she said being there for her daughter was a factor in her decision. She said her family's home is on the West Coast, and playing close to home is the "perfect situation."
The 15-year WNBA veteran was an unrestricted free agent after two seasons with her hometown Chicago Sky. Parker, who grew up in Naperville, Illinois, led the Sky to the franchise's first WNBA title in her first season in Chicago, and last season led the team to a playoff run that ended in the semifinals.
Parker made history last season, becoming the first player in WNBA history to reach 6,000 points, 3,000 rebounds and 1,500 assists. She was also the first player to record three career triple-doubles, got her seventh WNBA All-Star nod and made playoff history, too. Parker was the first player to have at least 15 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and five blocks in a playoff game.
The list of accolades Parker has earned throughout her career goes on and on. After being drafted No. 1 overall in 2008, Parker won both the Rookie of the Year and WNBA MVP award. Parker won her second MVP award in 2013 and was awarded WNBA Finals MVP when she led the Sparks to a title in 2016. She has been voted to the All-WNBA First Team seven times and won the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award in 2020.
Parker is one of the greatest players to put on the Lady Vols jersey. She played for Pat Summitt from 2004-08 and won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2007 and 2008, which is the last time Tennessee made it to the Final Four or won a national title.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Lady Vols great Candace Parker to sign with Las Vegas Aces