Aces’ Candace Parker: Kobe Bryant uplifted the WNBA

Few basketball players in the world had a greater impact on the game of basketball than Kobe Bryant. Not only did he impact the men’s side of the game, but his impact on the women’s side was indelible.

Bryant was an advocate for the WNBA and an ally to the players. Three-time WNBA champion Candace Parker commended Bryant this week for his impact ahead of his statue unveiling on Thursday at Arena in Los Angeles.

“We in the WNBA feel like Kobe was the person that uplifted our league,” Parker said on TNT. “I think just in terms of him having his daughters and really teaching the game. I think that’s the biggest thing I learned from him. It’s like always continue — no matter how many championships you have, how many games you win — to want to learn and get better and study the game. I think that’s the biggest thing that I learned from Kobe watching, but also being in L.A. and seeing him win championships at the end of his career.”

In 2020, the WNBA created the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award, which recognizes “an individual or group who has made significant contributions to the visibility, perception, and advancement of women’s and girls’ basketball at all levels.”

When the award was first announced, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert had this to say about Bryant.

Kobe was an incredible champion of women’s basketball and Gianna shared his passion and dedication to our game. The Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award will honor their legacy and reflect Kobe’s commitment to mentoring the next generation of players, promoting the game and giving back to the community.

The inaugural winner of the award was Chris Paul in 2021 and the 2022 winner was NBA legend Pau Gasol. The award winner is selected together by the WNBA and the Bryant family and announced each year at NBA All-Star Weekend.

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire