USA Basketball leaving Candace Parker off the Olympic Team roster

They’re leaving WHO off the Olympic Team roster?

USA Basketball has decided not to include Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker on the final 12-player roster that will represent the United States at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this August, sources close to the situation told ESPN…..

When contacted Monday, USA Basketball declined to comment.

Parker is a two-time Olympic gold medalist (2008 and ’12) and two-time WNBA MVP (2008 and ’13).

She was informed of USA Basketball’s decision not to include her for Rio last week, sources said.

Last October during USA Basketball’s four-game European tour, Parker had a triple-double. She averaged a team-high 12.3 points and 9.0 rebounds in helping the U.S. women to a 4-0 record.

WHAT?

And more importantly, WHY?

So Parker is one of the weakest players on this roster?

Obviously not. I can name off each player who should be cut before her, but I don’t want to be rude.

ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel illuminates this:

But of the 10 players who competed, Parker was statistically the best overall performer. How do you go from that to six months later being left off the Olympic team? How is that possible?……

And explores possible reasons why she was omitted:

Others will say it came down to chemistry/personality clashes. To that end, some will see this as evidence that USA Basketball has turned into Club UConn in the past eight years with Huskies coach Geno Auriemma guiding the senior national team. And that Tennessee grad Parker was outside of that clique, and thus deemed more expendable. (Six of the 12 Olympians in 2012 were former Huskies.)

I’m sure USA Basketball will insist college affiliation was totally irrelevant in how the team was picked by the selection committee. I’m equally sure that many Tennessee and Sparks fans will believe the committee members rubber-stamped what they knew Auriemma wanted. And never the twain shall meet.

But even if you don’t think this is some kind of personality conflict that goes way back, it’s still jarring to think Parker will not be on the Olympic team…..

Still, this is Candace Parker. Can you picture an NBA player of her age, experience, ability and accomplishment being left off the men’s Olympic team if he’d played in two previous Olympics and remained eager to be a part of it again? Can you imagine being Parker right now and not feeling utterly stunned and angry?

USA Basketball declined to comment, but politics come to mind immediately.

Parker was left out of game action in London for extended periods of time, and fans speculated it was because Auriemma didn’t like her. As with poor officiating, we’ll never know for sure if there was animosity involved. But it looks like it now.

Auriemma has been hinting at retirement of late. Perhaps having half of the Olympic Team comprised of former UConn players last time wasn’t good enough for him as his career winds down?

If Auriemma/USA Basketball is upset about her taking half of last WNBA season off, then why aren’t they carrying a grudge against Brittney Griner, who flat out turned down the invitation four years ago to tend to family matters?

There’s no justification for leaving Candace Parker off the Olympic Team roster. Her skills and abilities are among the world’s best. Is USA Basketball really that confident that we’re so much farther ahead than the rest of the world’s nations that they can omit one of our best players? With the decision to exclude Parker from the roster, they have leveled the playing field.

Idiotic. Unfathomable. Beyond reason. Shame on you, USA Basketball.

This is the first time in my life that someone has stunk up the Summer Olympic Games before they even began.

Fortunately, any ill feelings Parker likely had over this decision seem to be well under her control. I had a great interview with her after the first day of Sparks training camp yesterday, and she was relaxed and at ease. She gave no indication of getting any bad news last week.

Parker, who just turned 30 last week, seems to be settling into her ever-burgeoning wisdom with a lot of grace. And she hasn’t commented on the situation today. I do appreciate that someone who has been so disrespected is demonstrating that much class.

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