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The WNBA's 25th anniversary season is less than two months out and newly signed Chicago Sky star Candace Parker needed to get in a shootaround. The two-time league MVP just happened to show up fellow TNT analyst and four-time NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal in the process.
Parker and O'Neal have had spirited back-and-forth arguments on the "NBA on TNT" set that have made their way swiftly through social media and the internet. They were back at it in a way on Tuesday night when O'Neal made the age-old suggestion that the WNBA drop the baskets a few feet to allow for more dunking.
But not until after she showed O'Neal and host Adam Lefkoe what a made bucket looks like.
Parker outshoots Shaq on TNT set
O'Neal and Lefkoe had a shootout at halftime of the game that didn't go so well. Lefkoe said they had to make two but "went a really long time without making it." And he noted that fans watching on Parker's Instagram Live were worried the two would miss the second half of their broadcast because they couldn't get the job done.
They went 2-for-36 combined. That's a not-so-smooth 5.6 percent from behind the arc. To be fair to O'Neal, it was never part of his game and never had to be.
Parker took the ball next and got in some shots herself from around the same spot on their court. She went a perfect 5-for-5, at least according to TNT. Lefkoe alleged she took 40 shots and was "complaining about her dress."
That second part about the dress is probably true. Taking jumpers in a dress with anything that isn't a sneaker isn't an easy task. A few years ago she showed off the fadeaway in a pencil skirt and heels.
Count it down to the Chicago Sky season opener for more of those shots.
Parker shuts down Shaq's 'lower the hoops' call
In the postgame show, O'Neal told Parker he "had a way to make it equal" between the NBA and WNBA game. Parker immediately doesn't like where it's going, and it did indeed go exactly where everyone has taken it for years.
Lower the rims.
Parker, whose facial expressions here need about 50 of their own GIFs, shuts it down quickly with a "no" and slight head nod.
Parker became the second player in WNBA history to dunk when she did it in 2008, a decade after the league launched. Retired players Lisa Leslie, Sylvia Fowles and Michelle Snow have all dunked as have current stars Jonquel Jones and Brittney Griner.
Parker told O'Neal a more consistent dunking presence "is coming," mentioning opportunity. In the college game, Stanford sophomore Fran Belibi made her first collegiate dunk after becoming a dunking sensation in high school.
The WNBA doesn't have to be everything — or even anything — the NBA is and can stand on its own. Viewership is up and fans are increasingly following players, teams and the league to see good basketball.
Cynthia Cooper joined WNBA to lay groundwork for today
But wait. There's always more. Parker wasn't the only one shutting Shaq down. Cynthia Cooper, who led the Houston Comets to the WNBA's first four championship titles while winning all four Finals MVP honors, was not here for O'Neal asking if she was out to "show the world, hey, we can do what the guys can do." (He also threw a "you girls" in there.)
"No. I was really sure what women can do. I was sure what I had been doing overseas for 10 seasons and one year in Spain. I came to the WNBA to lay the groundwork for players like Candace to showcase her talent and be a champion in her right. For me, it wasn't about proving to the guys. It was about proving to American that women can play some ball and that our game was exciting to watch.
"And to be honest with you, a lot of the guys I played against, I was better than them. So no, I wasn't worried."
It was a rough night for Shaq, who also couldn't quite get the feel for the drums.
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