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It’s Candace Parker Day In Chicago, Finally

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at September 16, 2021

Happy Candace Parker Day to all who celebrate.

The city of Chicago has declared the new holiday, on a day Parker’s new line of shoes and apparel, the Candace Parker Collection, was released by Adidas.

It’s a fitting dovetailing of person, place and company, given the way 2021 represents new frontiers for Parker, even as she embraces her traditions of family.

Adidas is the company that’s made her sneakers dating back to her high school days, after all.

“I think there’s a purpose with every relationship,” Parker said in a phone interview. “I really fully believe, deeply, in believing in what you do and what you wear. And at a young age, Adidas just became a part of my everyday life.”

Back when Parker starred at Naperville High School, family was central to her life as well. So it should be no surprise that her decision to return home, signing a free agent contract with the Chicago Sky this past winter, has paid dividends in that area as well — thinks you might not imagine are part of an elite athlete’s calculus when choosing a team.

But athletes are people.

“My dad came over and fixed my blinds when they broke,” Parker said. “My mom made dinner last week, and brought it, because I was tired ,and she brought it for me to eat. I went and saw my grandma on Monday — we ate doughnuts. I just really am enjoying being around the people that I don’t get to see on a daily basis.”

Barbecue chicken, mac and cheese, “her famous spinach dip” were all part of the equation, too.

Parker is 35 years old. She’s enjoyed a typical season in statistical terms for the Sky, who are playoff-bound, but her thinking has changed into more of a long-range outlook as she continues to build out the business of being Candace Parker.

Not long ago, it was easy to identify the yawning chasm between Parker’s professional accomplishments and the lack of sponsorship opportunities they brought her. That gap hasn’t disappeared, but it has clearly narrowed.

“I think saying right now in 2021, it’s better than it was in 2008, when I came into the league,” Parker said. “So I do feel like we’ve made progress, both as a whole in the NBA and then also just in terms of brand partnerships and opportunities that are out there… investing in women’s sports and me as a brand.”

That opportunity is not lost on Adidas, either, as the broader sports world comes to terms with not only the breathtaking inequality that’s existed for years, but just how much money has been left on the table because of it. As such, Adidas working with Parker for this long is a helpful conduit to addressing that inequality.

“We have a long standing partnership with Candace – it’s been an honor to support her since the early 2000’s,” SVP of Brand for Adidas Kate Ridley said in an email. “Candace is a champion, and her tremendous career deserves a collection that celebrates her accomplishments and inspires female athletes everywhere. Candace returning to her hometown of Chicago was the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate her journey.”

That journey still could include a championship in 2021. The Sky have qualified for the playoffs, amid an up-and-down regular season campaign while Parker has navigated some nagging injuries.

“We’re a team that has been resilient,” Parker said. “We’ve faced challenges… Something we do pretty we do pretty well [is competing] with teams playing that we play in the top of the league. So I think that says a lot about what we have to do.”

But regardless, Parker will judge her 2021 success in different terms — what it means for people like her 12-year-old daughter, Lailaa — a young woman who Parker says has redefined her own sense of what is possible.

When Kamala Harris was elected Vice President of the United States, Candace told Lailaa, “See, you can be Vice President now.”

Lailaa’s response? “I don’t see why I couldn’t have before.”

And that’s Parker’s biggest takeaway from her partnership with Adidas, ultimately. It’s part of the bigger Candace Parker project, one that stretches out long beyond her playing career.

“There’s a 12-year-old at home that I’m hoping is eventually going to be able to have the same opportunities that my nephew has,” Parker said. “And not have to justify and fight and claw for even the same position to make the same money.”

Every day should be Candace Parker Day. September 16, 2021 was a good start.

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