Candace Parker: Geno Auriemma didn’t want me on Team USA

(Kena Krutsinger/NBAE via Getty Images)

Candace Parker sat down with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks on Tuesday, speaking candidly about her non-relationship with USA Basketball and Geno Auriemma after the program famously cut Parker from the 2016 Olympic team.

“I’m happy for them,” Parker said of the Tokyo squad, singling out Napheesa Collier and Chelsea Gray for their success this past summer as they helped Team USA win Olympic gold in Tokyo. Parker said she wishes Team USA the best, but was also candid in critiquing the program’s evolution.

“When you evolve with time, that’s when you’re at your best. And I don’t know if USA Basketball has continually evolved with time.”

Parker, who played very little in 2012 and was snubbed from the team in 2016, added that she wished that USA Basketball had been more upfront about the process. Parker highlights a camp in which she excelled on the court, alluding to the idea that it was about who she was off of the court that made the difference.

“I got a triple-double at the camp, was first or second in scoring,” she said. “Like, it wasn’t on the court.

“So if it’s me as an individual, as a person… I’m spending time away from my daughter to come and do these camps that I’m not even being judged off of how I’m playing.”

She added that she didn’t think she personally fit in with the team, which was then coached by UConn’s Geno Auriemma.

“I don’t think Geno wanted me on the team,” she said, adding that she wished that Auriemma and USA Basketball had just been upfront rather than beating around the bush.

“As soon as he was named coach again, I was like ‘ah well, this is gonna be interesting,’” Parker said in reference to 2016. When pressed for as to why Auriemma didn’t want her on the team, Parker said: “He doesn’t like me, I don’t like him.”

Parker also alluded to the fact that during her time at Tennessee, UConn failed to win a national championship and couldn’t beat the Lady Vols.

“We don’t like each other… But I’m of the mindset that I don’t have to like you to play with you. I don’t have to like you to work with you. And it’s fine, it’s cool. They made their decision.”

Parker then added that she’s still upset about Nneka Ogwumike being left off of the USA Basketball team that won gold in Tokyo.

“I get more angry at the people that I love getting hurt, and what they did to Nneka was unbelievable,” she said. “It’s one of those things where it’s like, I’m more angry at that. Because you have somebody that arguably, maybe in 2016 but definitely in 2020 [should have been included]. She’s the only MVP of the league [that hasn’t been named to an Olympic team]. She went and got MVP of the World Games and then you leave her off the team? I think that there’s certain grace for certain people, and there’s certain things that aren’t, that you don’t get grace.”

Parker also complimented UConn’s success as a college program while seeming to insinuate that the team and Geno have had too much influence over Team USA, a claim Seimone Augustus also recently made.