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Candace Parker, a 3-time WNBA champion and 2-time Olympic gold medalist, to retire

(AP) — Three-time WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Candace Parker announced Sunday she’s retiring after 16 seasons.

“The competitor in me always wants 1 more, but it’s time,” Parker wrote in a social media post. “My HEART & body knew, but I needed to give my mind time to accept it.”

Parker, 38, had told The Associated Press in November she wanted to play another season if she could get healthy from a foot injury that kept her off the court last season. But she cautioned that she didn’t want to “cheat the game,” or herself, and expressed the same in announcing her retirement ahead of the Aces’ attempt to win a third title in a row.

“I promised I’d never cheat the game & that I’d leave it in a better place than I came into it. … I always wanted to walk off the court with no parade or tour, just privately with the ones I love,” she wrote. “What now was to be my last game, I walked off the court with my daughter. I ended the journey just as I started it, with her.”

FILE – <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/wnba/teams/las-vegas/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Las Vegas Aces;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Las Vegas Aces</a> forward Candace Parker reacts during the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/wnba/teams/seattle/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Seattle Storm;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Seattle Storm</a>, May 20, 2023, in Seattle. The three-time WNBA champion has announced she’s retiring. Parker, a two-time league MVP, announced in a social media post on Sunday, April 28, 2024 that she’s ending her career after 16 seasons. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson, File)

Parker played her first 13 seasons in the league with the Los Angeles Sparks, establishing her dominance early as a No. 1 pick who won Rookie of the Year and league MVP in the same season. Parker was the first WNBA player to accomplish that feat, averaging 18.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists while helping the Sparks to a 10-win improvement in 2008.

Parker earned her second MVP award in 2013 and won her first title in 2016 with the Sparks. She’d go on to win a second title with the Chicago Sky in 2021 and a third with the Las Vegas Aces last season. She’s the only player in league history to win a championship with three different teams.

“The memories Candace Parker created for a generation of women’s basketball fans will remain ingrained in our collective conscience forever, but she has given so much more to the game beyond her accolades and statistics,” The Aces said in a statement. “As a teammate and mentor, a mother and wife, a baller, broadcaster, and businesswoman she has inspired countless young people, both boys and girls, to chase and achieve their dreams.”

Parker played for the late Pat Summitt’s last two national championship teams at Tennessee in 2007 and 2008.

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She won gold medals in 2008 and 2012.

Parker began working in broadcasting during her playing career. She has worked as an analyst for the NCAA Tournament with CBS Sports and for NBA TV.

She had surgery on her foot in July 2023 and told the AP it still pained her at the end of last year.

“This offseason hasn’t been fun on a foot that isn’t cooperating,” she wrote in her post Sunday. “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!”

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