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Candace Parker is one of the best players in the WNBA. Parker is currently in her first year with the Las Vegas Aces after previously playing for the Los Angeles Sparks and Chicago Sky. Although she is currently dealing with an injury, Parker still played a role in helping lead the Aces to the best record in the WNBA during the 2023 regular season.

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Parker recently took some time to talk to me about the Aces, the New York Liberty, Becky Hammon, A’ja Wilson and even “scare” Shaquille O’Neal.

Candace Parker’s Exclusive Interview with ClutchPoints

Joey Mistretta: What can you tell me that you learned the most from joining this Aces team?

Candace Parker: I think it’s very important, you know, mentally to be on the same page… I always loved watching Golden State and the way they were able to win consistently, the people who show up every day and can’t get enough of being victorious. I think you win and sometimes you let off the accelerator a little. But it’s been incredible to see the competitiveness and dedication that I think this organization has to win and be one of the best teams, especially now in the regular season. But I am sure that I will also try to reach the final.

Mistretta: Going off of that, the Liberty… I would say is your biggest threat right now. What do you think is the key to not letting Liberty overtake the Aces?

Candace Parker: I think the key is that you can’t win anything if you don’t get there. There are many times in sports history when you start looking too far in advance and games and series slip away. We saw it a little bit this year with Boston. I mean, they started with a clip of… I mean, I think they were shooting the highest three-point percentage from the field in NBA history… in the regular season. And in the playoffs I think they were looking too far ahead and, you know, the games got away from them a little bit.

That being said, I think it is very crucial and important that you focus on the moment. So that’s the most important thing. You can look at Liberty, that’s great, but the only way for them to face Liberty is to get to the finals, so make sure you put all your effort into that. And then once you get to the finals… if you play for Liberty, then you make adjustments.

Candace Parker, Becky Hammon, A'ja Wilson, Aces

Mistretta: I wanted to make sure I understood your point, and I know you’ve talked about this before, but Becky Hammon as a coach and then A’ja Wilson, a legitimate MVP candidate almost every year… just tell me what it is. Do you like playing for Becky and playing with Wilson?

Candace Parker: Well, I think Becky just brings this leadership that when she walks in the door, you know you’re going to take it. I think just by being a player before, then going to the NBA and then coming back to the WNBA, I think that journey has allowed her to grow in that role. I also think she empowers people. She listens as well as she speaks and leads, so I think it’s very important to be able to feel heard.

And then A’ja, just in terms of his ability to continue to demand the ball, score from mid-range and get to the free throw line. And then defensively, I think just being the anchor of that defense…blocking shots, breaking up shots, across the board.

Mistretta: I’m going to ask you a question not really as a player but as an analyst, I know you are an analyst and you do a great job with that. So heading into the WNBA Finals, I guess you’ll pick the Aces to get there, who will they play if not Liberty or Liberty?

Candace Parker: If not Freedom? I mean… I know that as an analyst we always want what is for the fans because we are also fans as analysts. I had the ability to play in a heated rivalry that was incredible in Minnesota against the LA Sparks. That was one of the best series I’ve ever played in. So why wouldn’t you, as a player, want to play your best to win? So I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to see the matchup and the rivalry and the excitement of the season, the regular season.

Aces, Celtics, Candace Parker, Jayson Tatum

Mistretta: It’s very early, but if you can make an NBA Finals prediction, who is your pick right now?

Candace Parker: Well, I’ve got Boston over the hump. I have Jayson Tatum as my MVP. Actually, yes, I have Boston. Coming from the West, I mean, listen, Denver is ridiculous and I don’t think people are giving them the respect they deserve. I know a lot of people are on the Phoenix train and the Lakers made a lot of great picks. Oh my god, I mean Boston-LA, just for a fan, from a fan’s point of view.

But for LA to be there, I think AD has to be there, competing (for) or winning MVP. So that’s my prediction: Boston-LA.

Candace Parker, Shaq, Shaquille O'Neal

Mistretta: My last question… do you have any really funny Shaq stories you can share?

Candace Parker: Let’s see… I would say Shaq is one of those guys who is kind of a joker. And so every year my goal is to scare him somewhere in the studio. I have a million videos on my phone of me scaring him in the studio. Like I’ll come out from behind the sound machine, or I’ll appear from behind the curtain or I’ll be behind the makeup chair and I’ll come out and he’ll scream.

Those are probably some of my favorite moments. Literally every year I have a video of me scaring him.

#Candace #Parker #NBA #WNBA #Finals #Predictions #Talks #Aces #Liberty

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