Legendary basketball star Candace Parker announces her retirement

Parker won three WNBA championships and two national titles at Tennessee

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 29: Candace Parker #3 of the Las Vegas Aces brings the ball up the court against the New York Liberty in the first quarter of their game at Michelob ULTRA Arena on June 29, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Aces defeated the Liberty 98-81. 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 Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Candace Parker is retiring after a legendary basketball career. She announced the news on Sunday via social media.

"I promised I’d never cheat the game & that I’d leave it in a better place than I came into it," Parker wrote on Instagram. "The competitor in me always wants 1 more, but it’s time. My HEART & body knew, but I needed to give my mind time to accept it."

Parker played 16 seasons in the WNBA, 13 of them with the Los Angeles Sparks, who drafted her No. 1 overall in 2008 out of Tennessee.

She won three WNBA championships during her career, in addition to WNBA Finals MVP honors in 2016. Her list of awards is extensive, including two MVP awards, Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. She is the only WNBA player to win MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season (2008). Parker was also named to seven WNBA All-Star teams.

Prior to playing in the WNBA, Parker also had a celebrated college career. With the Lady Vols, she won two national championships in 2007 and 2008 under iconic coach Pat Summitt. Parker was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player in each of those tournaments and also won National Player of the Year honors twice during her three seasons in Knoxville.

During her WNBA career, Parker averaged 16 points, 8.5 rebounds, four assists and 1.3 steals per game while winning championships with the Sparks, Chicago Sky and Las Vegas Aces. She is the only WNBA player to win titles with three different teams.

In 2002, Parker became the first WNBA player to compile 6,000 points, 3,000 rebounds and 1,500 assists in a career.

Additionally, Parker won two gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics for Team USA. Overseas, she won five Russian League championships with BC UMMC Ekaterinburg during WNBA offseasons.

"I always wanted to walk off the court with no parade or tour, just privately with the ones I love," she wrote on Instagram. "What now was to be my last game, I walked off the court with my daughter. I ended the journey just as I started it, with her."

Family was an important part of Parker's career. She missed the first eight games of her second WNBA season in 2009 after giving birth to her daughter. Despite the time missed during her maternity leave, Parker was still named to the All-WNBA and All-Defensive second teams.

Parker missed the second half of last season and the playoffs with the Aces after undergoing foot surgery. She said she wouldn't return for another season if injuries continued to be a concern.

"If I’m healthy, I’m gonna play," Parker said in November. "But I’m not gonna play in pain anymore. It’s too important — the trick-or-treating, the crossing over my kids, it’s too important."

Off the court, Parker has set herself up nicely for a prosperous post-playing career.

Since the 2018-19 NBA season, she's been a studio analyst and game commentator for TNT and has also been part of NCAA tournament coverage for TNT and CBS. She also launched a production company, Baby Hair Productions, which has worked on projects such as an ESPN documentary, "Unapologetic," that covered her 2022 season with Chicago.

Parker and her daughter are also part of the ownership group for the NWSL's Los Angeles franchise, Angel City FC.