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The Margin: Candace Parker on being the first female athlete on an NBA 2K cover: ‘I hope that I’m the first, but not the last’

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Candace Parker is making history as the first-ever female athlete to appear on the cover of an NBA 2K video game. 

Parker, a forward for the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, is featured on the WNBA 25th anniversary special edition of NBA 2K22, which is scheduled for release on Sept. 10. All 12 WNBA teams appeared in the game for the first time in NBA 2K20. The 2K22 WNBA special edition will include an exclusive in-game seven WNBA jersey bundle, featuring Parker, New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike and others.

The two-time MVP and six-time All-Star joined NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal on his podcast Wednesday to discuss the news.

“As a hooper, you grow up wanting your own shoe, and you grow up wanting to be on a video game,” Parker said, recounting how she grew up playing the game with her brothers. “As your days kind of get fewer in your career and you know that there’s more basketball behind you than in front of you, I think you really take these moments. So this means a lot.”

“I hope that I’m the first, but not the last,” Parker, 35, said of being the first woman on the cover. “I hope that there’s many more young women and young girls that look and say, like, ‘We can do this.’”

NBA 2K is owned by Take-Two Interactive
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which said the game brought in over $1 billion last year.

Parker started her career in the WNBA in 2008 and became the first player to receive both the MVP award and Rookie of the Year award in the same season that year. She’s also a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and she led her team to victory in the 2016 WNBA Championship.

She became the Sky’s biggest free-agent acquisition this year, signing a two-year contract worth $385,000. Her sponsors include Adidas
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Gatorade and Capital One
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.

Parker is headed to Japan for the 2021 Olympics, but won’t be playing for Team USA. After being snubbed from the roster, NBC announced Parker will be joining its broadcast team as a basketball analyst during the games.

Parker joins an elite but small group of female athletes to grace the cover of video games. Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson was the most recent female athlete on a cover, appearing on a Wii gymnastics game in 2010

Meanwhile, two-time NBA All-Star Luka Dončić was chosen as the cover athlete for the standard edition of the game, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant will appear on the NBA 75th Anniversary Edition.

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