Why Adidas Naming Candace Parker President of Women’s Basketball Is a Major Statement for the Brand

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Candace Parker was a leader on WNBA courts for 16 seasons, all while wearing Adidas. Now retired, the basketball icon will lead in a different way at Adidas.

On Wednesday, the German athletic giant announced Parker as its new president of women’s basketball, effective immediately.

In this new role, Adidas stated Parker will work with the brand to “create a powerful platform aimed at influencing and elevating the future of women’s sports.” Adidas also said she will leverage her understanding of the game and the needs of female athletes “to define a clear and impactful direction, with a focus on access, increased representation and breaking down barriers on a global scale.”

“We are honored to be a part of Candace’s historic legacy as she transitions from signature athlete to this new leadership role within Adidas Basketball,” Adidas Basketball global general manager Eric Wise said in a statement. “As a true innovator with a profound passion for the game, we are confident that she is a perfect fit to evolve the Adidas Women’s Basketball business and catalyze a new era of growth and credibility for the brand.”

Although this president role is new, Parker has been on the Adidas athlete roster for 16 years, signing with the brand in 2008. Her Ace signature shoe franchise with Adidas debuted in 2010 with the launch of the Ace Commander, making her the first woman athlete to receive a signature shoe from the brand. She also wore Adidas before turning pro, including her college days at the University of Tennessee where she won two national championships.

“What makes this partnership special is that Candace wore Adidas on every level — AAU, high school, college and in the WNBA. It’s the perfect union,” said Greydy Diaz, a journalist, host and producer who covers women’s sports. “Her biggest moments on the court were in Adidas sneakers and now her biggest move off the court will be with the same brand that always believed in her.”

Sneaker YouTuber and women’s basketball advocate TJ Keasal believes there is no ceiling for Parker in this role, especially given the energy, support and generational talent in the game today.

“If she approaches her new role as president of Adidas women’s basketball the same as her career, she could lead Adidas in the largely untapped lane of performance basketball sneakers, designed with a woman’s foot and athletic needs in mind first,” Keasal said. “Even more, she could help Adidas offer impactful solutions to what do women basketball players want, on and off the court when style is just as much a focus as performance.”

She continued, “The women’s market is wide open for Candace and Adidas to establish trust with women consumers through her own experiences, having been in their shoes.”

Matt Powell, advisor at Spurwink River and senior advisor at BCE Consulting, also applauded Adidas for naming Parker to this role. The industry insider said she gives Adidas “a ton of credibility” and that “it’s wonderful they have continued their relationship with her beyond her playing days.”

However, the success of this role, Powell believes, will come down to product. One of the things Adidas stated Parker will be tasked with in this role is overseeing its women’s basketball product lines.

“There is tremendous opportunity here to step out and address the female basketball player correctly with product. The impact could be tremendous if [Adidas] addresses the product,” Powell said. “This is going to depend on whether [Adidas gets] serious about women’s basketball or not, or whether they make men’s basketball shoes and call them women’s again. Or if she’s going to preside over unisex product — unisex either means it doesn’t fit anybody or it’s made for a man.”

He continued, “If they make product that is made for a woman’s foot, that’s a massive change in this industry. If they don’t, then this is somewhat of a wasted gesture.”

Keasal also believes much of the success hinges on product. She said Adidas could win with women if they employed a strategy similar to what it does for its NBA athletes, offering product lines featuring both performance shoes and intentional lifestyle capsules that would resonate with women athletes off the court.

A signature shoe strategy for women, according to Keasal, could also prove effective.

“To truly stamp their mark in the women’s performance market, I think a major accomplishment by Candace and Adidas would be the launch of a signature sneaker for one or two current superstars within the league,” Keasal said. “It’s something she knows to be a rare feat, having been one of only 12 women — 13 with Caitlin Clark’s future sneaker release — with a signature sneaker in the WNBA’s 27-year history.”

She continued, “Fans, players, coaches and more have stated how disproportionate the signature sneaker offering is for the women’s game versus the men’s game. It’s a known gap that Adidas can fulfill strategically, ahead of its competitors, marketing each new signature sneaker as well with its established women’s roster in both college and the WNBA.”

Adidas also stated Parker will be tasked with overseeing its women’s basketball athlete roster. The brand’s roster at the moment is stacked, a lineup that features several WNBA champions including Alysha Clark, Chelsea Gray, Kahleah Copper and Nneka Ogwumike. The roster also includes WNBA rookie Aaliyah Edwards, college hooper Hailey Van Lith and several others.

Diaz believes Adidas tapping Parker for this role is an example of how valuable women athlete’s experiences, voices and journeys are.

“Candace Parker is one of the greatest to play the game and she made her mark wearing Adidas. We’ve seen her dominate on every level, making her the perfect person to lead Women’s Basketball at Adidas,” said Diaz. “This move is impactful because it means that she will have the power to impact the next generation and current Adidas Women’s Basketball roster. She will bring a full scope of insight from the player perspective and from a longtime brand athlete.”

Parker’s presence was felt by Adidas’ roster even before assuming this president role. Most notably, the athlete and the brand partnered in 2022 to create a mentorship program aimed at providing guidance to newly signed student-athletes with as they navigate the name, image and likeness (NIL) deal era. Adidas made the announcement as it revealed its all-women NIL class — featuring 15 student-athletes — to celebrate the 50th year of Title IX.

About the Author

Peter Verry is the Senior News and Features Editor for Athletic and Outdoor at Footwear News. He oversees coverage of the two fast-paced and ultracompetitive markets, which includes conducting in-depth interviews with industry leaders and writing stories on sneakers and outdoor shoes. He is a lifelong sneaker addict (and shares his newest purchases via @peterverry on Instagram) and spends most of his free time on a trail. He holds an M.A. in journalism from Hofstra University and can be reached at

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