June 23, 2021 

Candace Parker sounds off about women’s basketball selections for Tokyo Olympics

"It's bullshit"

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Candace Parker. (Screenshot via WNBA Content Network)

Maybe it was the 7 1/2 hour delay, flying a commercial jet to New York for Tuesday’s game.

Maybe it was the adrenaline that came from scoring her second double-double in less than a week, against the New York Liberty, which was instrumental in the Sky’s 92-72 win Tuesday night.

Either way, Candace Parker pulled no punches expressing her opinion on Team USA’s selections to the Tokyo Olympics. In response to a question from the Associated Press, Parker let loose.

How many times are we gonna say it’s unfair, how many times are we gonna say it’s not politics it’s bullshit which is why I’m commentating in Tokyo and not…”

Her voice trailed off.

Yep, she’d rather be playing than commentating.

When Team USA coach Dawn Staley announced the roster for the team that will try for a sixth consecutive Olympic gold medal, the omissions, thus far, are garnering greater attention than the actual roster.

Three of those omissions were Parker, Elena Delle Donne, and Nneka Ogwumike, who was previously left off the 2016 Rio Olympics roster. This was the same year she was named the WNBA’s MVP.

“Of course I reached out to Nneka,” Parker said. “There’s a number of players who are deserving. I hit Nneka…it sucks, it’s unfair. You’re one of the greats. You’re an MVP. That’s why it sucks.”

The roster emphasizes experience: Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm, and Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury), both of whom first competed in the 2000 Olympics; former Chicago Sky center Sylvia Fowles, now with the Minnesota Lynx; Tina Charles, currently with the Washington Mystics, Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury, and the Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart, who return to chase a second Olympic gold in Tokyo. 

Rounding out the five on five roster are Jewell Loyd if the Seattle Storm, A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces; Ariel Atkins, Washington Mystics; Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx;  Skylar Diggins-Smith; Phoenix Mercury; and Chelsea Gray, Las Vegas Aces.

Dolson named to 3×3 competition

The Sky did get better news on Wednesday morning, as center Stefanie Dolson was named to the inaugural 3×3 Olympic competition. Dolson will join Allisha Gray, Kelsey Plum, and former Sky first-round pick Katie Lou Samuelson in representing USA Basketball.

“I’m elated and honored to be a part of history,” Dolson said. “This will be the first time 3×3 will be in the Olympics and my first time ever going to the Olympics, so to say I’m happy would be an understatement!”

While Dolson expressed regret that her family couldn’t be with her in Tokyo due to Covid-19 restrictions, she knows they’re proud of her and knows they will be watching.

“I can’t wait to make my family is proud – they are so excited for me as well – so overall I just couldn’t be happier.”

All four are first-time Olympians.

What is 3×3 Basketball?

3×3 basketball is played with a 12-second shot clock on a half court. Baskets inside the arc and free throws are worth one point, and baskets made from outside the arc are worth two points. The winner is the first team to score 21 points, or the leading team at the end of the 10-minute game clock. Each team consists of four players, three on the court and one substitute per team.

“These four players not only are outstanding athletes, but they will be excellent representatives for our country in this new Olympic discipline,said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball CEO, said of the team. “All four have significant USA Basketball experience, and most recently won the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifier, which earned this 3×3 berth to Tokyo.”

Kara Lawson, the former WNBA star, 2008 Olympic gold medalist and game analyst, is serving as a USA Basketball coach/advisor. She commented on the selections.

“I’m thrilled for these four women, all first time Olympians!” said Lawson. “Their dedication these past 18 months to help position USA Basketball in Tokyo is being rewarded.

Now, the real work begins,” she continued. “I’m confident that this group will be able to put together performances that represent our standard. This will be our most challenging tournament to date, but I love the competitors that we are bringing with us.”

At the FIBA 3×3 OQT in Graz, Austria, the USA finished 6-0, finishing first in the tournament and averaging 21.2 points per game. Dolson averaged 5.7 points per game in the qualifying matches.

Dolson is 42-3 all-time with USA Basketball teams, including five-on-five and 3×3. She first played with the USA National Team in 2013 as a college student and has been on six five-on-five national team rosters between the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup and exhibition games. She won gold medals with USA Basketball junior national teams at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and the 2011 FIBA U19 World Cup, and winning 2013 and 2014 NCAA National Championships at the University of Connecticut.

The USA team will compete against seven other teams, including China, Mongolia, Romania, Russia, France, Japan and Italy.

In its first Olympic showing, 3×3 basketball will feature eight women’s teams competing at Aomi Urban Sports Park from July 24-28. The preliminary round will be played from July 24-27. The quarterfinals will be on July 27, and the semifinals and finals are set for July 28.

Written by Alison Moran-Powers

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