Aces president says team supports families, fails to address Dearica Hamby's discrimination claims

The Las Vegas Aces attempted to introduce Candace Parker to fans Tuesday, an effort that was overshadowed by the team’s choice to avoid addressing a major issue that the WNBA and WNBPA are both now investigating.

The news conference was the team’s first media availability since concerning allegations of pregnancy discrimination surfaced in Dearica Hamby’s farewell statement to the Aces after she was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks.

The reigning WNBA champions are an incredibly exciting team. That statement is even more true after the team secured the “huge victory,” as Aces president Nikki Fargas called it, of acquiring Parker, a two-time WNBA champion.

During the introductory news conference, Fargas, Parker and head coach Becky Hammon agreed on how dominant the Aces can be with Parker’s addition.

"Candace has always been about winning. And, I think that's the one thing that stands out to me about her career everywhere she's gone, she's won. And so to add her into our locker room, I'm excited to learn from her,” Hammon said of the two-time WNBA champion.

Parker even wins off the court and will become the first woman to call the NBA All-Star Game later this month, something that couldn’t be discussed before the conference came to an abrupt conclusion.

PALMETTO, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 20: A general view of the WNBA logo is seen on the court before Game One of the Third Round playoff between the Las Vegas Aces and the Connecticut Sun at Feld Entertainment Center on September 20, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida. 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 Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
An investigation into Aces' management has yet to be addressed by the reigning WNBA champions. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

When Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Andy Yamashita began to ask a question about Hamby early into the media conference, he was interrupted by the Aces’ director of media relations and told that Fargas needed to leave to attend a meeting.

Then, reporters were told the next question would be the last and the session ended.

Fargas opened with a general statement that seemed to relate to Hamby’s claims, but did not specifically address them.

“Here at the Las Vegas Aces, we do make sure and we will always continue to make sure that our players and their families will always be in the forefront of who we are as a franchise,” Fargas said. “We're going to always be supportive of our players in that regard, and we will always demonstrate that we will act accordingly when you are discussing any situation surrounding the well-being of our athletes.”

The WNBA reportedly didn't take Fargas at her word, as the league announced the next day it was investigating the Aces' handling of Hamby, via The Athletic's Ben Pickman:

“The WNBA is currently conducting an investigation involving the Las Vegas Aces in connection with allegations raised in a recent social media post by Dearica Hamby.”

The WNBPA has already said it will investigating Hamby's allegations.

Although the Aces used images of Hamby and her daughter, Amaya, often during Hamby's eight-year tenure with the team, Hamby’s statement alleges the team was not actually supportive of the two-time Sixth Player of the Year’s role as a mother.

According to her statement, the Aces promised Hamby things to "entice" her to sign a contract extension before last season. Someone in the organization then allegedly accused her of signing while knowing she was pregnant for a second time. Hamby was also allegedly subject to questions about her commitment to the sport and “disgusting comments” before she was ultimately traded.

Hamby spoke about the trade that left her “heart broken,” during her introductory news conference with the Sparks, saying that she cried in her first call with head coach Curt Miller.

She noted then that her claims have nothing to do with any Aces players.

"Don't take it out on the girls," Hamby said. "It's not Candace [Parker’s] fault; it's not A'ja [Wilson] or Chelsea [Gray’s] fault. I'm confident that the league will do what they need to do.”

Contrary to her wishes, the team’s decision to stay silent on her allegations has only brought them more attention — a development that was illustrated during a news conference that should have been all about Parker.