Candace Parker: Ranking WNBA Star's Prestige Next to Other ESPN Body Athletes

David Daniels@TheRealDDanielsSenior Writer IJuly 10, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 26:  Candace Parker #3 of the Los Angeles Sparks reacts during the WNBA game against the Phoenix Mercury at US Airways Center on May 26, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Sparks defeated the Mercury 99-88.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Candace Parker has achieved fame among the forgotten.

The Los Angeles Sparks superstar will pose for ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue set to be released on July 13. Twenty-seven athletes will be featured in the edition, but Parker is one of, if not the biggest name of the bunch.

Morty Ain of ESPN interviewed Parker and asked why she accepted the magazine’s offer. She said:

I thought it would be fun and a great opportunity—especially since last time I was on the cover, I was pregnant. It's nice to see the body transform. I hope I can send a message that if you work hard, you can come back just as good as before.

Parker plays women’s basketball—that isn’t exactly an attribute of a well-oiled hype machine.

It may not be fair, but the WNBA isn’t regarded in the same class of major professional leagues with the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL. For crying out loud, it had an ad campaign a couple of years ago promoting the slogan, “Basketball is basketball.” I’m sorry, but that’s pitiful.

Despite the sport’s lack of notoriety, Parker’s fame has flourished. Here’s a ranking of her reputation compared to the other household names in the issue.

6. Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach is a Team USA legend. She actually made the U.S. care about soccer in the 2011 FIBA World Cub which is a nearly impossible task to accomplish. While her sport is the most accepted internationally, she hasn’t achieved Parker-like fame.

5. Maurice Jones-Drew

For citizens of the United States, MJD may be the biggest name. He’s a rushing champion and three-time Pro Bowler in the nation’s most popular league. But football isn’t exactly an internationally beloved sport and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ lack of postseason success holds back Jones-Drew.

4. Jose Bautista

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista is a three-time All-Star and two-time MLB Home Run Champion. But while he’s a veteran at his craft, he hasn’t achieved Parker’s level of hype. I mean after all, he spent almost half of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

3. Candace Parker

Parker is the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game and the first to do it twice in a college contest. She’s a two-time NCAA national champion, Naismith Award winner, two-time Wooden Award winner, Olympic gold medalist and is one of three American professional basketball players to win Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in the same year. The other two were Wilt Chamberlain and Wes Unseld—she’s kind of a big deal.

2. Rob Gronkowski

Parker should be ranked just behind Rob Gronkowski when it comes to popularity. He’s a hotter name right now than a guy like Jones-Drew because he plays for the New England Patriots. He broke multiple NFL records and helped lead the Pats to a Super Bowl berth all while attracting a cult-like following.

1. Tyson Chandler

Tyson Chandler isn’t a face of the NBA, but in a league that markets individual players and has an international following, he’s achieved a ton of fame. First off, he plays in New York, one of the biggest markets on the planet. And of course, he was a key part of the Dallas Mavericks squad that knocked off the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals which was historic in terms of audience.

David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.