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Sparks star Candace Parker steps up her offseason game

Candace Parker will be 33 by the next WNBA season and is still playing at an MVP-caliber level. She's also working on her offseason portfolio, which continues to expand.

Parker's broadcasting work has increased over the years, and she signed a deal in October with Turner Sports to cover the NBA as an analyst and work in the studio for men's college basketball. Recently, she was announced as part of group of athletes and entertainers who will work with Foot Locker and Adidas on various public-service projects and introduce a new line of footwear.

It's called the Asterisk Collective, and the initial shoe, the Adidas Originals TRESC Run, will be available in Foot Locker stores Dec. 20.

The "collective" includes Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and musicians Kid Cudi, Raury and H.E.R. Each will launch a platform connected to the two companies that pursues a particular passion. Parker's platform is focused on establishing an equal playing field for women of all ages and cultures.

"I think it's just really fun for me to team up with them, and it to be something that I really believe in," Parker said. "My daughter is so important to me, as is leaving the sport better than when I came into it. This is an initiative that takes that a step forward."

Parker's daughter, Lailaa, is fourth-grader. Parker said she and her daughter regularly have conversations about eliminating the word "can't" from her vocabulary.

"And I know this comes directly from Coach Summitt," Parker said of her college coach at Tennessee, the late Pat Summitt. "I never, ever, ever get upset when my daughter tries something and it doesn't go well. I explain to her that's a learning experience, and that's how we get better.

"It's just about empowering her to understand that it's OK to be uncomfortable when you're learning, because that's when you're improving. That's been my message to her: She can do anything she puts her mind to, it just might not happen right now. You've got to work toward it."

Parker said one of the things she herself has learned most about broadcasting is the value of listening.

"If you listen, you can learn so much to be able to inform your viewers about your thoughts on things," Parker said. "So I really watch and listen as much as I can. I read all the articles I can. How much fun is it? It's basketball, so it's not like it's ever boring."

Recently, Parker's Los Angeles Sparks have been in the news as Brian Agler resigned after four seasons (and one championship) and was replaced by former NBA player Derek Fisher. The hiring process -- Sparks general manager Penny Toler said only one candidate was considered -- drew criticism, especially since no one with a women's basketball coaching background was interviewed. Fisher, who played 18 seasons in the NBA and won five titles, coached a season and a half with the NBA's Knicks before being fired.

Parker said Fisher's longtime support of the Sparks and his success as a player has helped him build a trust factor with the WNBA players he will now coach.

"I'm extremely excited for Derek to be a part of the Sparks' family," said Parker, who averaged 17.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists last season. "He was an amazing player. We've crossed paths a lot. To have somebody like that -- that you look up to -- to be your coach, I think everybody is going to be open, ready and receptive to what he has to say and what he wants to teach us.

"We're going to have an adjustment period like any new thing has, but I think we're going to be ready, and we're really excited for the 2019 season."
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