Candace Parker dedicates WNBA title to Pat Summitt
Last night, Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks defeated the juggernaut Minnesota Lynx in Game 5 of the WBNA Finals and, in turn, was overcome with emotion as her teammates celebrated around her. Parker, by any definition of the word, is a superstar and has averaged 17.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.4 steals, and 2.9 blocks over her decorated eight-year career -- and, yet, the only thing on her mind after the final buzzer was one of her oldest friends, Pat Summitt.
In June, Summitt, the legendary coach and extraordinary human from Tennessee, passed away. Following her first-ever WBNA title, Parker could only manage to say: "This is for Pat ... This is for Pat." Parker then ended the interview to hug a nearby staff member.
As we wrote before, Summitt had the ability to impact her player's lives both on and off the court:
According to ESPN, Summitt’s graduation rate was 100% — that is not a typo. Not only did she prepare her team on the court, but she motivated her players to be the best versions of themselves off of it. We’ve long discussed the rarity of going professional and Summitt always focused on preparing her athletes for life after sports.
Parker played under Summitt for three years from 2005-2008, winning two-straight NCAA titles before she forewent her senior year to prepare for the Olympics. Although the Sparks' victory was epic -- as they took down the 28-6 Lynx and the seemingly invincible Maya Moore -- will go in the record books, it was Parker's touching tribute to a coach and friend that many will remember.
Congratulations to Parker and the rest of the Sparks on their WNBA title, reminding us all why we play and watch sports in the process.
Candace Parker pays fond tribute to Pat Summitt after winning WNBA title -- Zack Pierce