Candace Parker rejoins Sparks after giving birth
July 1, 2009
EL SEGUNDO – Candace Parker has returned to practice with the Los Angeles Sparks 1 1/2 months after giving birth to her first child.
However, coach Michael Cooper said Wednesday that it’s unlikely Parker would play when the team hosts Phoenix on Sunday.
Parker, last year’s league MVP and rookie of the year, had a daughter named Lailaa on May 13. She’s married to Shelden Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Parker went through a light workout that included shooting, ball handling and skill drills.
“It was great,” she said. “I was just really excited to practice so I treated it like a game almost because you miss it. I’ve been away from basketball for nine months, 10 months really, so it’s great to be back on the court.”
There is no timetable for Parker’s return to playing. After Sunday, the Sparks open a seven-game road trip and she isn’t scheduled to travel with the team.
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“We’re going to play it by ear,” she said. “I’d like to have a couple days of practice and then I’ll probably have a better idea.”
Cooper said he was encouraged by seeing Parker back in action.
“It’s a matter of her feeling really, really comfortable and not just looking comfortable,” he said. “Fifty percent of Candace is better than a lot of players, 90 percent than some of the players, but all we’re going to do is just gauge her (progress).”
As a rookie, Parker averaged 18.5 points and a league-leading 9.5 rebounds.
Parker said she worked out three days before giving birth and resumed two weeks after.
“I’m a gym rat,” she said. “I love to be in the gym, work out, and play.”
She isn’t the first Sparks player to return after having a baby. Three-time league MVP Lisa Leslie sat out the 2007 season because of her pregnancy.
Leslie, who will retire after this season, said it took about a year to feel like she was back to 100 percent on the court. But she figures Parker will probably have a quicker recovery because she is younger.
“We talk all the time about everything, the baby, nursing, nanny, travel, everything,” Leslie said. “I feel honored to be a mentor to Candace. She has a great network of people around her like I did and that’s what helps you.”
Parker is the fifth Sparks player to become a mom.
“It’s been the best thing ever,” she said. “My husband and I really enjoy watching our daughter grow. It’s amazing how much they change in a short amount of time. She makes me smile every day.”