Candace Parker: WNBA's Hot Spark

“Ms. Parker, Ms. Parker...” Sound familiar? You may

remember that from the classic movie Friday.

Well, today we’re not talking about the movie - we’re

actually referring to basketball phenom Candace Parker. Known for her

illustrious career as the star forward for the Tennessee Volunteers, she is now

ready to show everyone that she can play in the big league.

Parker caught the attention of everyone in 2004 when she defeated five men, winning

the McDonald's All American Powerade Jam Fest. She became the first woman ever

to win a slam-dunk contest.

During Parker’s college career she won the John R.

Wooden Award in 2007 and 2008, an honor also bestowed upon greats such as

Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. Parker was also named NCAA Final Four Most

Outstanding Player, All-America First Team and SEC Tournament

MVP, among others.

McDonald's Powerade Jam Fest Greatest Dunks 1992-2006

The day after she won her second consecutive NCAA

championship, Parker was picked as the Number One overall selection in the WNBA

draft. Heading to the Los Angeles Sparks, she became the first woman to give up

her final year of eligibility to join the league.


winning all three of their pre-season games, everyone knew the Sparks were ready to show their flare once

again. Though their last season ended off in a disappointing 10 and 24 record,

everything is falling into place with the return of three-time most valuable

player Lisa Leslie, who sat out last season on maternity leave.

Leslie at 6’5” and Parker at 6’4” will create a dominant inside combo that

should be among the best in the league. With a powerful lineup, it is no wonder that a survey conducted by the WNBA General Managers predicted that the Sparks

will win their third WNBA championship.

In another survey, the GM’s also

voted that the top two player awards will also belong to the Sparks - Leslie as

MVP, and Parker with 75% of the votes as the potential Rookie of the Year.

As one of the star players on the Sparks, Parker had

to let it be known that she was way more than a college superstar. She may have felt a little jaded preparing

for her WNBA debut - with nearly 14,000 people in attendance and a plethora of

people watching at home - but that did not stop her from putting on a

spectacular show.

On May

17, in a thrilling season opener against the defending champions the Phoenix

Mercury, Parker garnered a remarkable 34 points, which is the most in a WNBA


The intensity

of this match-up seemed reminiscent of a playoff game, as it was tied early in

the fourth quarter. That’s when Parker rallied her team and scored 10 points in

a row to give the Sparks

an 89 to 86 lead with 3:15 to play.

Parker, still wearing a brace on her left shoulder from it being dislocated

during the NCAA tournament, made six of seven shots in the final quarter and

put her team up with 12 seconds to go. The Sparks and Parker pulled the win over the

Mercury 99 to 94, setting a tone for their

promising season.

A week

later (May 25), the Sparks defeated the Atlanta Dream 74 to 56, setting them at

a 2-0 record. Parker, coming off her spectacular debut had10 points,

four rebounds and three assists in the first half. Going into the third quarter

with a 20 point lead, the Sparks never trailed the entire game, and Parker finished off

with 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Aside from Candace Parker being an incredible ball player, she is also

beautiful and a favorite with male fans. People

Magazine must have also agreed, as they tapped Parker for their 2007“100 Most Beautiful People” issue. She was there alongside the

likes of Eva Longoria, Oprah Winfrey and Alicia Keys, to name a few.

Of course, if she is a fly chick and dope ball

player, that means she is definitely marketable as well. Both Nike and Adidas were

fighting to have Parker at the helm of their brand, but Adidas came out on top,

signing Parker to a multi-million dollar shoe deal.

The nation's leading sports drink Gatorade also

snatched up Parker, and is planning to feature her alongside other top athletes,

making her the only Black woman to

endorse their product.

Many believe that with her various accolades,

Candace Parker is on the path to becoming one of the greats - but it may be too

early to begin discussing her position in the history of women’s basketball.

I personally believe she is talented, but do you

think that her hype is bigger than her ability?

You can check out Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks in their

next televised game against the Washington Mystics, Saturday May 31 on ABC.