(Photo courtesy of NBA 2K22)

Former Tennessee basketball legend and current Chicago Sky star Candace Parker has accomplished a lot in her WNBA career, and now, she’s adding another to her list of accolades.

Parker will be one of a few NBA 2K22 cover athletes and the first female ever to be featured on the cover of the video game. Parker will grace the cover of the WNBA’s 25th Anniversary special edition, which is set to release on Sept. 10.

The 35-year-old power forward recently stated everything she’s accomplished in the WNBA since 2008 led her to really bask in and enjoy her moment as the first woman to ever be featured on the cover of an NBA game.

“I grew up a video game fanatic, that’s what I did, to the point where my brothers would give me the fake controller when I was younger where I think I was playing and I wasn’t,” Parker told the Associated Press. “All I wanted to do was just be like them. As a kid growing up, you dream of having your own shoe and dream of being in a video game. Those are an athlete as a kid’s dreams. To be able to experience that, I don’t take it lightly.” 

Few female athletes have graced the cover of sports video games, and Parker will join an exclusive group that also features Shawn Johnson, who was a cover athlete for a Gymnastics by Wii videogame in 2010, and Jelena Dokic, who was featured on the cover of the WTA Tour Tennis videogame in 2001.

“I think it’s a benchmark of women’s basketball for sure,” Parker continued. “I think most importantly it speaks to visibility and how important it is and how important the WNBA is. Everyone is looking at it that it’s impacting little girls, but it’s also impacting little boys and young men and young women and men and women. I think our game is different than the NBA, now it’s embracing that fact. Now more than ever, fans want to follow the athlete. Through social media, through video games, it’s adding and benefitting the WNBA.”

Over her 13-year WNBA career, Parker has built quite the resume for herself that includes a WNBA championship, winning a WNBA Finals MVP and WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award, being a six-time WNBA all-star, a two-time WNBA MVP, and winning the WNBA’s Rookie of the Year award in 2008.

But her latest achievement of video game cover athlete is a noteworthy one as the WNBA was added to the NBA 2K franchise three years ago and Parker being on the cover gives the league more visibility and further closes the gap between men’s and women’s professional sports.

“I think it’s a signal and a sign of the momentum around our players, our players’ story,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. “Candace has been such a great representative of the league -- what she does in broadcast, what she does as a mom. I just think as a role model, I get chills just standing up here talking about her on that cover.”

Parker will join Luka Doncic, who was named cover athlete for the game’s regular edition, and Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were recognized as cover athletes for the NBA 75th Anniversary Edition. 

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