Commercial Appeal: Q&A With Candace Parker
Candace Parker is busy. Fresh off a full calendar year of non-stop basketball during which she won an NCAA Championship at Tennessee, she won a gold medal in Beijing with the USA Olympic team and she became the first player in WNBA history to win both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards, you can hardly blame the 22-year-old Parker for being bushed.
But she's hardly a shrinking violet. Though she's spent much of the last month in the Sacramento area with fiancee Shelden Williams of the Sacramento Kings, Parker made a trip to the East Coast this week. During a stop Wednesday in New York City, Parker spoke with WNBA.com's Adam Hirshfield about her appreciation of NBA hoops, her hopes for a hilarious new SportsCenter ad and her thoughts on the recent Presidential election.
Dot-com: You've been traveling up and down the East Coast over the last few days and were in Philly on Monday to see Shelden and the Kings play against the Sixers. What's it like to watch him play live and how often do you get to see him play?
Parker: Yeah, over an 82-game schedule, it's tough to see every game during the season, but I go to all the games I can make. My brother lives in Baltimore, so fortunately I was able to make a trip there to see him and my niece and sister-in-law then swing up to Philly to see Shel and check out the Kings.
Dot-com: What was your take on the Kings? Can they be a playoff team this year?
Parker: Yeah, obviously it was a tough loss (the Kings fell to the Sixers 125-91), but Philadelphia is a really great team and the Kings will get better as the season goes on.
Dot-com: So now you're in New York and you're going to the Knicks game tonight. And you're sitting in Spike Lee's courtside seats?
Parker: Yes, that is correct.
Dot-com: Are you guys tight? Are you angling for a spot in one of his upcoming movies?
Parker: Yeah, I definitely want to show up in one of his Spike Lee joints. Ha. No, I've been a huge fan of Spike Lee's for a long time. I'm a huge fan of his movies, especially Love and Basketball.
Dot-com: Spike is well known for getting involved in the Knicks games when he's sitting in his seats, including taunting Reggie Miller a few years back. Do you have any plans to shout things at the players on the court?
Parker: Ha, I have no plans of talking to anyone on the court. I'll just be there to enjoy the game and to take in the Knicks and Bobcats. I always enjoy watching NBA basketball.
Dot-com: Do you have a favorite team to follow, aside maybe from the team that Shelden is on?
Parker: Well, I keep an eye on the Toronto Raptors, because my brother Anthony plays for them. I love seeing him play when I can. I grew up in Naperville, Ill., too, so I was a big Chicago Bulls fan back in the day.
Dot-com: After the Knicks game, you're heading up to Bristol, Conn. (on Thursday) to visit the folks at ESPN where you're getting the honor of shooting a "This is SportsCenter" ad. While I'm sure yours will be one of the best spots ESPN has ever made, do you have a favorite SportsCenter ad among the many they've done over the years?
Parker: Oooh, one of my favorites would definitely have to be the one with Coach Summitt (Parker's coach at Tennessee). She's really got this coaching thing down Pat. I really like that one.
I also really like LeBron's ad where one of the ESPN guys steals his king's chair.
Finally, this one is old school, but I really liked the one with Gheorge Muresan when he and the ESPN guys just start dancing.
Oh, and the other ad with Muresan where he sells his own scented cologne. That wasn't a SportsCenter ad, but it was still hilarious.
Dot-com: Do you know what the premise is for the new ad you're shooting?
Parker: I don't know what the premise is, though I suspect it'll have something to do with dunking. I'm just excited to go there� and obviously I hope it's gonna be funny� all of the others have been.
Dot-com: We caught up with you in San Antonio when you were there to receive your Rookie of the Year and MVP awards. At that point it sounded like surgery on your shoulder was being considered. What's the status of that and is there still a possibility of that procedure taking place?
Parker: No, surgery's not an option anymore. Everything with the shoulder's feeling good. I've really just tried to let my body rest in the four weeks since the season's been over. Relax.
Dot-com: So are you heading overseas soon to play there? What kind of timetable are you looking at for that?
Parker: Yes, I signed a contract to play with Ekaterinburg in Russia (currently featuring WNBA stars Deanna Nolan, Cappie Pondexter, Asjha Jones and Svetlana Abrosimova). I'll be heading over in January.
Dot-com: So, I'm sure you're working out in some ways, right?
Parker: No, haha. Not yet. I'd been playing straight for a year, so it's nice to have some time off after that 24/7 kind of physical pressure.
Dot-com: Is it weird not to be pushing your body in the same way as you had been for a year straight?
Parker: Yeah, I get a little antsy some times, but I know that I'd been playing without a serious break for a full year and I know that my body needs the rest. I'm an athlete who gets in shape very quickly, but can also get out of shape very quickly. So I need to take the time off, but it works to my advantage to be able to get back into shape pretty quickly.
It's all about longevity if I want to have the kind of career I really want. It's not necessarily about fitting everything into one year. I'm just trying to relax right now and enjoy myself, and soon I'll get back to training and working out.
Dot-com: Finally, I wanted to touch on the election of Barack Obama. Whether or not you're a supporter of his, what are your thoughts on his election Tuesday?
Parker: I'm a huge supporter of Barack Obama and I'm super-excited that he got elected to be our President. It's pretty clear that Americans were very excited to watch the election unfold the way it did� it certainly was exciting for me. It renews that sense of patriotism in you. It makes you proud to be an American. And I believe in his abilities and that things will change for the better. I'm very excited to have him as our President, especially given all of the barriers he has broken.
Dot-com: Many experts are also saying that because of Obama's close connection to the Chicago area, his winning the election could really help Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. You'll only be 30 at that point� still in the prime of your career, right? Have you given any thought to representing your country -- presumably for the third time -- in your home city eight years from now?
Parker: It would be a great opportunity. Chicago is a great city for the Olympics� obviously, I'm a little partial being from there� but it would be a terrific host city and I would be incredibly excited to participate in the Games there.