On this day 14 years ago, Candace Parker made history in her WNBA debut and set the tone for her career.
The eventual two-time WNBA champion scored 34 points, still the most by a rookie in a WNBA debut. She also added 12 rebounds to secure the double-double and dished out eight assists to come close to a triple-double.
Blast from the past 😭On this day in 2008, @Candace_Parker made her regular-season debut and posted an easy 34 PTS, 12 REB, and 8 AST. Holding her ground against the defending champions of the time, the Phoenix Mercury, 99-94. pic.twitter.com/VZKLNqoiep— WNBA (@WNBA) May 17, 2022
Blast from the past 😭On this day in 2008, @Candace_Parker made her regular-season debut and posted an easy 34 PTS, 12 REB, and 8 AST. Holding her ground against the defending champions of the time, the Phoenix Mercury, 99-94. pic.twitter.com/VZKLNqoiep
Cynthia Cooper-Dyke held the previous high in a WNBA debut, scoring 25 points in 1997. While Parker’s number has never been surpassed, Napheesa Collier moved into second place with 27 points in her 2019 debut.
Thanks to Parker’s performance in her first game, the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Phoenix Mercury 99-94. The game was tied early in the fourth quarter, but Parker made six of her seven shots in the quarter to help propel her team to the win.
“It obviously was better than I expected,” Parker said at the time. “Coming out, I just wanted to play hard. I was a little nervous, and I think my teammates did a good job of just keeping me in it mentally and just not allowing me to get frustrated.”
Fresh off winning a NCAA title with Tennessee, Parker went on to win Rookie of the Year and WNBA MVP that season. She spent 12 seasons with the Sparks, winning one WNBA title in 2016.
She returned to her hometown to play for the Chicago Sky in 2021, and she helped lead the team to its first ever WNBA title.