by Chris Camello (@Chris_Camello)
BRADENTON, FL — The Los Angeles Sparks have entered the WNBA Wubble at the IMG Academy trying to ramp up for a condensed 22-game season without key veterans in Chiney Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver who have both opted out of the 2020 season.
With those significant losses of leadership and experience, the Sparks will be leaning on others to lead the way, but perhaps none more than Candace Parker.
Parker spoke about how this season will be different.
“I think everybody here is fighting individual battles just with what’s going individually and in the world,” Parker said Tuesday morning.
“This season especially isn’t an asterisk, it’s an exclamation point, just because of all the factors and outside things that are going on that determine who’s here and who’s not for the season. Everyone that’s here wants to be here…it’s not a season that will be easier than the other ones.”
She also spoke about the positives of being in the Wubble.
“A lot of people looked at the negatives of the Bubble. For me as an older player, I looked at it as a positive,” Parker said. “We’re not traveling; we’re not going to have to recover on a flight after a back-to-back; we’re not going to have to get up early and travel.”
“Everything is here,” Parker continued. “We’re able to have a tunnel vision of focus. Those are two things that our team has struggled with in the past and it’s forced on us now.”
Parker will certainly be counted on more as a leader both on and off the court, helping her teammates navigate through any challenges they may face while maintaining a positive outlook on this special season.
Head coach Derek Fisher has high expectations for Parker this season.
“I believe that Candace is coming into this season healthier physically and mentally,” Fisher said. “She’s in a much better place than she was at this point in training camp last year. I think she’s going to have a phenomenal season, I think she’s going to stay healthier…and her leadership is vital to the success of our team.”
If the Sparks are going to go far this season, there will be more pressure for the two-time WNBA MVP to deliver perhaps more so than any other time in her storied career.