Try to imagine the stardom Lebron James would have received had he won the MVP and the Rookie of the Year award his first season in the league. Impossible, right? An athlete couldn’t possibly pull off this feat. Wrong, think again.
This feat was recently accomplished, though not by an NBA player, but rather a WNBA player. Had this happened to Lebron James, he might have quickly become a multi-billionaire, opposed to his current status of multimillionaire; however, when the WNBA’s Candace Parker recently accomplished this unfathomable sweep of individual accolades, it put her in the public eye no more than having her name on the scroll on the bottom of ESPN.
Candace Parker’s accomplishments put her name down in the record books with rare company, Wilt Chamberlain and Wes Unseld, as the only professional basketball players to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. To put it in perspective, Kobe Bryant failed to win Rookie of the Year, and it took him twelve years to get an MVP award.
Parker led the WNBA in rebounds, efficiency rating, and double-doubles and was ranked in the top twenty in nine of ten statistical categories, so it was no surprise to league followers that she accomplished such an improbable task, all while leading her Los Angeles Sparks team to the Western Conference Finals. Michael Jordan didn’t even manage to get the Bulls a playoff appearance his rookie season.
Even with Parker’s amazing accomplishments, the WNBA still fails to attract the attention it deserves. In order to make a living, women’s basketball players are forced to play year round, playing in the WNBA during the summer months and overseas on club teams in the winter. Candace Parker has obviously already accomplished more in her career than Lebron James, yet her contract is worth two-hundred ten times less than his twenty million dollar per year contract.
Women’s players seem to play with a passion and competitive heat that sometimes the men’s game is lacking. Women play more fundamentally sound and are less flashy in their style of play. They are also more sincere and approachable, staying very humble in all situations.
The WNBA did make strides this year in its popularity. Television, as well as, attendance ratings were up a remarkable percentage this year. The future for the league is definitely bright. For now, while Lebron James may be making the highlight reel, a betting man (or woman) could put money down to say that a women’s player, somewhere, has a highlight of her own that is maybe less flashy, but fundamentally just as good, and knows that she can do anything he can do, better.
Photo: Credit to Andrew Bernstein