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Candace Parker coaches A’ja Wilson from WNBA Finals sideline

Candace Parker supports the Las Vegas Aces from the sidelines during Game 1 of the 2023 WNBA Finals. (David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)

Candace Parker remains sidelined for the Las Vegas Aces, but that didn’t stop her from making her voice heard during Game 1 of the 2023 WNBA Finals.

From her spot directly behind the Aces’ bench, the two-time WNBA MVP leaned forward to speak with A’ja Wilson, seemingly providing some words of wisdom to the Defensive Player of the Year.

With a 99-82 win Sunday against the New York Liberty, the defending champion Aces jumped to a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five championship series. While the Liberty held a three-point advantage at halftime, the Aces outscored them by 20 points through the final two quarters at Michelob Ultra Arena.

Parker signed with Las Vegas as a top free agent ahead of the 2023 season, but the 37-year-old forward has not played since undergoing surgery to repair a foot fracture in July. There has been no update on her status during the postseason, but she did attend the Aces’ practice Saturday.

“She brings championship presence,” Las Vegas head coach Becky Hammon said of Parker ahead of Game 1. “She’s sitting right there behind the bench, she’s always in people’s ears, she’s seeing different things, she’s communicating, so anytime we can have her with us: Yes, please.”

Before her surgery, Parker appeared as a starter in the first 18 games of the season for the Aces, averaging 9.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Kiah Stokes has replaced her in the starting lineup, averaging 2.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.