Spotlight on Candace Parker: Life after shoulder surgery
Candace Parker has a lot of weight on her injured shoulder.
She underwent shoulder surgery just six weeks ago, and already the Sparks marketing campaign features a photo of her with the catchphrase: "I'll be back, will you?"
Parker dislocated her left shoulder in June after grabbing a defensive rebound. She was not touched on the play but immediately walked toward the Sparks bench, grimacing from the pain.
"It was the worst pain ever," she said.
It was not the first time Parker injured that shoulder. In 2008, her senior year at the University of Tennessee, she dislocated it during the NCAA tournament regional finals. She played through the pain, though, and was drafted to the Sparks later that year. She went on to win the rookie of the year award and was named the league's most valuable player, but her shoulder problems never disappeared.
"My shoulder got to the point where it was coming out when I was sleeping," Parker said.
She had planned to have surgery at the end of the 2010 WNBA season, but after dislocating her shoulder yet again, she realized she could no longer put off the inevitable.
"I just feel thankful and blessed that it's even an option for me to have this surgery," Parker said. "Fifteen years ago, I wouldn't be playing."
Sitting at home hasn't been easy for the star athlete, who was averaging 20.6 points and 10.1 rebounds before the injury.
"My husband always teases that now he's finally gotten his wife to do all the wifely duties," Parker said of Denver Nuggets forward Shelden Williams.
Even though Parker can use only one arm, she said she's managed to maintain her routine with her 15-month-old daughter, Lailaa.
"I was so worried before I had the surgery that I wasn't going to be able to do the little things I enjoy doing with my daughter," she said.
But just four days after surgery, she said she successfully changed Lailaa's diaper with one hand.
"I'm a mom," Parker said. "I just figure it out."
Parker has channeled all of her frustration into her rehabilitation, which she began a week and a half ago. Right now, she's only been cleared to do range-of-motion exercises for two hours a day.
"When I'm told to do two sets of 10 reps, I'll do two sets of 11," she said.
Parker said the injury has given her a lot of perspective.
"My biggest downfall was that I'm super critical of myself," Parker said. "If I miss a three, I'm like 'dang.' In the timeout, I'm mad, I'm hitting the chair."
That, she hopes, is a thing of the past.
Parker is expected to make a full recovery. She's supposed to be cleared to shoot in October and play with contact in late December.
What can we expect from a healthy Candace Parker?
"A lot more," she said. "I'll be back next year, healthy for the first time in my career."
-- Melissa Rohlin
Photo: Candace Parker holds her daughter, Lailaa Williams, Aug. 4 at Staples Center. Credit: Kirby Lee / Image of Sport / US Presswire