Candace Parker: A Special Player, But Not the WNBA's Savior

Jeffrey EngmannCorrespondent IMay 18, 2008

It happens once every four years. There is this incredible female basketball player, usually from the land of Summit or Geno, who enters the WNBA with great expectations.

Before she even steps onto the court, she is praised, labeled no longer as a sensational collegiate athlete, but hailed as a basketball goddess far superior to her contemporaries.

She is asked unanswerable questions like "What are you going to do to help the league's identity?" and "How do you feel about being the savior of the WNBA?"

It seems like everyone in the sports world is waiting for this monumental moment when either the WNBA is terminated and deemed as colossal failure, or the league makes a remarkable transition into the mainstream, and finally receives the love it deserves.

So this savior/goddess does not have the opportunity to get to settled into the league like most rookies do. With a large target on her back, she undoubtedly feels the pressure weighing on their shoulders. Nevertheless, she puts up good numbers, impressive enough to make a lasting impression on the passionate followers  of the WNBA, and from time to time capture the attention of the more casual sports fans.

Unfortunately, her team's success (or lack thereof) during her rookie season, doesn't prompt enough media attention to attract a larger audience. Her "undefeated, back-to-back championship, blowing out every team in college" career simply can not be replicated on a professional level. Therefore, this anointed savior/future of the WNBA/goddess is viewed as disappointing; unable to fill an insatiable void. 

Numbers don't lie. So when any basketball fan sees the stat line (34, 12 and 8 in a 40-minute game), they can't help but be impressed. Candace Parker lit up the Phoenix Mercury Saturday afternoon, and the numbers really don't do her justice.

Candace Parker is not the Truth, or the Answer. She's not the Chosen One. She's simply Candace Parker.

That absolutely has to be the way the WNBA markets her: as a 22-year-old female superstar waiting to be embraced by the bright lights of Hollywood, if America's ready to watch her grow. Her talent can't be denied, and the league's new slogan this year is on point as it pertains to the young point forward. Expect Great(ness).

Without question, her godly debut is destined to be discussed by popular weekday sports shows like PTI, and First and Ten. But what happens after that is pretty much as unpredictable as the WNBA's marketing campaigns.

Therefore, we shouldn't expect too much else, besides her greatness. Don't expect her to transcend the sport, or make the disinterested sexist start loving the women's game.  The best thing the media and true fans of basketball can do is simply watch her play, because she is extremely talented, and way ahead of her time.

But it's important to note that others who have preceded her have been as well. Portraying an up and coming star as a basketball messiah to the league can only be detrimental, because not only does it place a huge burden on a rookie, but it also is a slight to those who have come before her.

Therefore, in order to stop this disturbing trend of disappointment, I suggest that fans of basketball should watch Ms. Parker go to work, and let her play her rookie season detached from the "savior" label.


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