Candace Parker gets candid about 2016 USA Basketball snub: 'I don't think Geno wanted me on the team'

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  • Chicago Sky
    Chicago Sky
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  • Candace Parker
    Candace Parker
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  • Geno Auriemma
    Geno Auriemma
    Italian-born American women's basketball coach

It's not surprising that Candace Parker and Geno Auriemma don't have much in common, but Parker revealed Tuesday night in a live interview with Bleacher Report a key difference between them in her mind: Parker is willing to work with people she doesn't like.

Parker did not hold back when talking with Taylor Rooks, explicitly stating she has no relationship with USA Basketball. Parker was on the 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold-medal teams, but was not selected for the 2016 team despite her performance at training camp (where she was a top scorer and recorded a triple-double).

"It wasn't on the court," Parker said. "So, if it is me as an individual, as a person, I'm spending time away from my daughter to come and do these camps that I am not being judged off of how I am playing.

"I don't think I personally fit, I don't think Geno wanted me on the team. I think it is one of those things where it's like cool, like just tell me and then don't beat around the bush."

In 2016, Parker was a two-time WNBA MVP, three-time WNBA All-Star, and went on to win the 2016 WNBA championship with the Los Angeles Sparks.

"I mean, he doesn't like me, I don't like him," Parker said on why she thought Auriemma didn't want her on the team. "I'm of the mindset that, I don't have to like you to play with you. I don't have to like you if I work with you. And it's fine, they made their decision. I laugh and joke that my kids will never play USA Basketball, or USA sports at all."

WNBA 2021: Parker leads Chicago Sky to their first championship

Parker was more upset by the people she cared about getting left off teams, though, including Nneka Ogwumike in 2021.

"What they did to Nneka was unbelievable," Parker said. "I'm more angry at that."

Candace Parker won gold medals for the USA at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics but was not selected for the 2016 team.
Candace Parker won gold medals for the USA at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics but was not selected for the 2016 team.

After the 2016 snub, Parker declined the invitation to try out for USA Basketball for Tokyo 2020.

"I can't teach my daughter lessons, and tell her about respect and treatment and communication and then go back to that," Parker said. "I'm done, I'm happy, I got two gold medals. I appreciate the experience and I wish them well, honestly.

"I am so proud of Chelsea (Gray) and Napheesa (Collier), and obviously Sue (Bird) and Diana (Taurasi) and what they did in terms of going to five Olympics and winning five medals. That's super special and I think it's valuable. It's important for USA to stay on top."

The interview wasn't complete without taking a few shots at Connecticut. Parker, who played at Tennessee from 2005-08 and won two NCAA titles, made to sure mention the lack of NCAA titles at UConn in that time period.

"Respect to Connecticut. Connecticut continues to crank out player of the year, after player of the year," Parker said. "At the same time, though, when I was there my four years at Tennessee, they didn't win no national championships, and they never beat us. But, I don't know, that might be a soft spot."

Cora Hall covers University of Tennessee women's athletics. Email her at cora.hall@knoxnews.com and follow her on Twitter @corahalll.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Candace Parker says Geno Auriemma didn't want her on 2016 Olympic team