Los Angeles, Calif. – Candace Parker was named the 2013 WNBA Most Valuable Player Thursday night, prior to the Los Angeles Sparks’ first-round playoff match up against the Phoenix Mercury.
It was Parker’s second MVP award. In 2008, she was named both Most Valuable and Rookie of the Year. The following is a transcript of the press conference where the announcement was made:
WNBA President Laurel Richie:
Candace’s game is not a game that is told in stats. It’s this other sort of it factor, and whatever that iit factor is, Candace, you’ve got it. I look back at the season and it was not, probably, the start that the team was looking for, waking up and finding themselves 5-4. If you look at what happened to the team in July, you see that Candace lead her team on a 7-2 run….scoring an average of 19.8 points. In six of those games, Candace scored 20 points or more. Candace lead her team in scoring, rebounds and blocks and was number two in steals and assists. And that speaks to the versatility and breadth of her game.
Candace, this is your second MVP honor, and with this you are joining a very very small group that represents the best of women’s basketball and the best of the WNBA. This is Sheryl Swoopes, Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie, Cynthia Cooper. With you getting your second MVP, there are only five athletes who have mulitple MVP awards. That speaks volumes, not only for this season but for your career with the WNBA.
Thank you, Laurel Richie and the WNBA for this prestigious honor. I was shocked when I got your phone call yesterday. I was so focused on playoffs, and in playoff mode. I am really humbled and wasn’t expecting this because of the great competition and because of how much the WNBA has grown since I was on the stage five years ago.
The first thought that came to my mind when I received her phone call is that I remember back to when I was in college and my coach, Pat Summitt, said to me, “you have to handle success like you handle failure.” Five years ago, I stood on this stage young. I was back here and thought that this just happened. That you came into the WNBA and just everything happened so fast. Years later, obstacles thrown, injuries, a beautiful daughter – things like that happen.
It’s not what’s thrown at you, it’s how you handle it. And I’m truly blessed to have a support system in my teammates, my owners, my coaches, the fans, the city of LA, my family, that really have my back and understand when they need to push me and when they need to give me love. I am very appreciative for all my teammates pushing me every day in practice, to try and make me the best, and my coaches as well, and my opponents in the WNBA. The league has grown right before my eyes.
I definitely want to thank my husband. He’s my rock. He’s always there, to tell me what I need to hear. And lastly, just my family, growing up – my dad, my mom, my brothers have always been in my corner. And my daughter. She’s the reason I wake up every morning, and she’s what pushes me. Five years ago, when I stood on this stage, I didn’t know I was going to have a daughter in nine months. She’s blessed me with more than I could ever imagine. She’s the reason I work as hard as I do, because I don’t want to let her down. So I really appreciate it, Lailaa, for pushing mommy every day.
Is this award a redemption for the past few years of injuries?
I didn’t come into the season with MVP on my mind, and it’s really hard for me to focus on this right now, because we have a playoff game that we’re about to play, and I’m in a playoff mind set. But I think I can remember (during) my second injury, when I hurt my knee, lying on the couch watching the all-star game and crying to my husband because I’d never been there. I was hurt, I was pregnant – all these things had happened. And he just told me, “work hard, keep your head up, continue to work hard and it’ll work out for you.” So I think it’s bittersweet in that sense that I’ve worked extremely hard, and my teammates and coaches have pushed me to get better every day. This isn’t just my award – it’s my teammates and coaches’ award.
How do you continue to elevate your game, and reach the goal of a championship?
That’s what pushes me everyday; it’s the one thing left to cross off. Individual awards can be disputed. People can say, “you didn’t deserve it.” But nobody doubts whether Indiana won the championship last year. Nobody doubts whether Minnesota won the championship the year before. So to me, you’re not in elite company until you will your team to victory, to a championship. That’s how everything’s measured, whether it’s fair or not.
(NBA player) Derek Fisher came and talked to us today, and he was talking about, “no one remembers who won MVP, but people will remember that the Bulls had a three-peat twice. They’ll remember that the Lakers won three straight championships, and that LeBron has two.” So I think that’s the most important thing (to me).