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Candace Parker, one of the most decorated players in WNBA history, recently announced her retirement after 16 seasons. She called an end to a career that included two MVP awards, championships at every level, and two Olympic gold medals. Parker leaves a sneaker legacy with Adidas that ranks among the longest-running brand partnerships in the sport. And it’s only just beginning.

On Wednesday, Adidas announced Parker will become the new president of Adidas Women’s Basketball.

According to the brand, “Parker will collaborate with the brand to create a powerful platform aimed at influencing and elevating the future of women’s sports. She will drive innovative strategies and empowering initiatives to push the game further while inspiring the next generation of hoopers to dream bigger and reach higher under her guidance.

“Parker’s role will also involve overseeing the adidas Women’s Basketball product line, and spearheading further development of the brand’s storied women’s roster—which boasts all-stars like Aliyah Boston, Erica Wheeler, Sophie Cunningham, and Kahleah Copper, to name a few.”

Parker’s new role is the fulfillment of a dream she had years ago. “I’ve been actually unofficially with Adidas since 2003, which is when my high school team got sponsored by Adidas,” Parker told Andscape in 2018.

As a young hooper in her hometown of Naperville, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, she laced up in Adidas while competing for her AAU team. That trend continued into her time at Naperville Central High School, where she quickly rose to national prominence.

Sporting an Adidas trefoil headband and Pro Models that she purchased after saving up her summer allowance, Parker guided her team to multiple state championships and was named High School Player of the Year twice. Parker was the first woman in Illinois to dunk when she was just 15 years old in 2001.

Parker’s early accomplishments in Adidas attire at Naperville Central laid the foundation for her enduring partnership with the brand.

Parker’s dominance in high school attracted widespread attention from college recruiters. She committed to the University of Tennessee in November 2003, where she was mentored by Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt.

“I don’t know whether it was fate, but I went to an Adidas college at Tennessee, and then when I came out of college it was just natural to sign with Adidas just because I’d been with them,” Parker said. “It had become more like a family. I knew everybody within the company. They wanted to grow with me and have that type of partnership.”

Parker led Tennessee to consecutive NCAA national championships in 2007 and 2008 was named the Final Four’s most outstanding player both years. Parker’s dunks and versatile style of play captivated fans. Parker left an indelible mark at Tennessee, receiving two consensus National Player of the Year awards, solidifying her status as one of women’s college basketball’s greatest players.

Parker’s burgeoning stardom attracted interest from numerous sneaker companies hoping to secure her endorsement before she started her pro career. Parker’s agent was Aaron Goodwin, co-founder of Goodwin Sports Management, renowned for brokering shoe deals for such superstar NBA players as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Damian Lillard. After being selected with the first overall pick by the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2008 WNBA draft, Parker continued her long-standing partnership with Adidas, and this time it was official.

“There were a number of companies looking to partner with me, but Adidas’ commitment to the game of basketball, their WNBA partnership, their future direction and how I could be an extensive part of that made me feel like this was the perfect fit for my future,” Parker said in a news release in 2008.

According to Goodwin, Parker signed a multiyear, multimillion-dollar deal with Adidas, though the brand kept the terms of the agreement private. The lucrative pact would have yielded significantly more than her reported $44,000 rookie-scale WNBA contract. There was optimism that Parker and established WNBA stars such as Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Tamika Catchings, and Lauren Jackson could increase the league’s popularity and fan base.

Parker’s Adidas deal also included a signature sneaker line, then a rare deal for athletes fresh out of college.

“Young girls will resonate with Candace and someday lace up basketball shoes with her name on the sides,” Goodwin said at the time.

Signing a rich sneaker deal came with significant responsibility for Parker. The pressure to perform at an elite level not only had basketball implications but also had the potential to influence brands to invest more significantly in female athletes. Parker lived up to her billing: On May 17, 2008, she made her WNBA debut, scoring 34 points against the defending champion Phoenix Mercury, the highest for a WNBA rookie.

In June 2008, Parker became the second woman in WNBA history to dunk in a game, a moment that set a record for single-day steaming on the official WNBA website. By the end of her rookie campaign, Parker became the first WNBA player to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season, joining Wilt Chamberlain and Wes Unseld.

“The successful future of the WNBA is defined by talented, team-oriented young players like Candace Parker,” said Jim Gatto, former head of global sports marketing for Adidas. “Candace has shown throughout her basketball career that she can and will do whatever her team needs to win.”

During her rookie and sophomore seasons with the Sparks, Parker wore player exclusive Adidas performance models while her signature sneaker was being developed. Models such as the Piranha 3.0, a carryover from her time at Tennessee, were emblazoned with Parker’s freshly designed Ace 3 signature logo, the work of UNDRCRWN founder and graphic designer Dustin O. Canalin. Inspired by her nickname Ace, a take on the last three letters of her name, the Ace 3 logo was important in establishing her identity separate from the CP3 nickname she shared with NBA star Chris Paul.

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Los Angeles Sparks center Candace Parker wears her first signature shoe, the Adidas Ace Commander, during the game against the Atlanta Dream at Staples Center on May 30, 2010, in Los Angeles.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The defining moment of Parker’s sneaker legacy occurred in 2010 with the debut of her Adidas Ace Commander signature model. It marked Adidas’ first signature basketball sneaker crafted for a woman. The Ace Commander was designed with Parker’s input, incorporating elements tailored to her playing style and preferences. Among her requests were a midfoot support strap for enhanced stability and a multicolored outsole inspired by her fondness for Skittles candy. The result was a shoe reminiscent of a battle-ready tank, modernized with a sleek cut and a repeating spark pattern for a touch of femininity. Released in Sparks-inspired colorways and several Team Bank editions created to match the colors commonly used for team uniforms, the Ace Commander realized what Parker envisioned for herself as a young woman back home in Chicago.

“There are so many people, that when I was growing up, I’d tell them, ‘I’m going to have my own shoe’.” Parker told Andscape in 2021. “They would say, ‘Well, girls don’t do that.’ I’m like, ‘Well, good thing I’m not a girl. I’m a woman — so we’re going to do this.’”

Next up for Parker was the Ace Versatility, her second signature shoe for the 2011 season. Once again, Parker played a pivotal role in the design process, providing insight that shaped its features. The shoe boasted a removable cross-strap for customizable support, durable carbon fiber overlays, and a distinctive flowing stitch pattern along the collar spelling out “Ace.” Purple and yellow Sparks-inspired colorways of the Ace Versatility were produced alongside exclusive collegiate editions for top programs such as Tennessee, Michigan and Louisville.

Following the 2011 season and throughout the rest of her time in Los Angeles, Parker returned to wearing custom versions of Adidas’ biggest statement models, including pairs from the Crazy Light and Crazy Explosive series. The Ace Versatility was the last signature shoe created for a woman until New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart introduced her Puma model in 2022.

In April, Nike signed Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark, marking the fourth-straight signature deal awarded to a white woman. The Ace Versatility had been the most recent signature basketball shoe tailored for a Black woman, igniting discussion about the disparity in signature opportunities for Black women, who make up 73% of WNBA athletes.

In 2021, Parker realized a lifelong dream to play for the Chicago Sky. Adidas created the Candace Parker Collection of footwear and apparel to commemorate her emotional homecoming. Unlike a traditional signature model, the collection was centered on the Exhibit Ace, a player-exclusive edition that crossed into retail availability. Parker’s colorways were had the theme of women empowerment, with elements honoring Summit, Parker’s daughter Lailaa, and her basketball career.

“I feel like every part of my life has been represented in my shoes,” Parker said in 2021. “From my Tennessee days to Naperville, out to LA and then back home again.”

Fresh off bringing a WNBA championship to Chicago, Parker returned for the 2022 season in the Adidas Exhibit B. The Candace Parker Collection Part II was highlighted by a wide range of Exhibit B colorways that were tributes to powerful women in Parker’s life, especially the “Lailaa” pair dedicated to her daughter. The shoe was styled in gray, green, and yellow, which are her favorite colors, and her name was printed on the heel.

“It means a lot to be able to have a shoe that’s dedicated to Lailaa and all the memories we’ve been able to make because of basketball,” Parker said. “I owe her everything.”

After two seasons with the Sky, Parker signed with the defending champion Las Vegas Aces for the 2023 season. Early in her stint with the Aces, she played in the Adidas Exhibit Select, a shoe engineered for women. Parker helped design exclusive colorways featuring her Ace logo, released as part of the Candace Parker Collection Part III. It marked a return to marketing sneakers tailored to address the modern demands of the women’s game. “Having a women’s shoe, that’s pretty dope,” she said.

Parker’s lone season in Las Vegas ended when she was sidelined after surgery on her fractured left foot. The pain persisted however, prompting her retirement announcement April 29.

Parker’s sneaker legacy with Adidas represents more than just a lucrative endorsement deal. It embodies her dedication to empowering female athletes. Throughout her career, Parker consistently voiced her ambition to leave basketball in a better state than she found it, a mission that extended to reshaping the sneaker business for women. Her success in securing high-level compensation, signature products, campaign features, and long-term investment by her brand serves as a blueprint for women negotiating deals. Through her determination, Parker has inspired generations of girls who have been able to play in her signature sneakers, just as she once envisioned for herself as a young athlete.

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By: Brandon Richard
Title: WNBA legend Candace Parker earned her stripes in long partnership with Adidas  
Sourced From: andscape.com/features/candace-parker-adidas-basketball-sneakers-legacy/
Published Date: Wed, 08 May 2024 12:40:55 +0000

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Tiger Woods missed the PGA Championship cut but his legacy played on

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Tiger Woods has always played to win. Since turning professional in 1996, he has won 82 tournaments, including 15 major championships. Perhaps, more astonishing than the victories and majors is the 142-event made cut streak that lasted over a seven-year period from 1998 to 2005, when he was the most dominant golfer that the game has ever seen.

Woods never said he was the greatest. He didn’t need to. “There is no sense in going to a tournament if you don’t believe that you can win it,” he once said.

Yet, coming into the PGA Championship at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, Woods was circumspect about his chances of hoisting his fifth Wanamaker Trophy. Asked about the state of his game, he admitted that he was rusty and that the barrage of injuries had taken a toll on his body. “I can still hit shots,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s getting around is more of the difficulty that I face day-to-day and the recovery of pushing myself either in practice or in competition days.”

When the tournament began on Thursday, Woods, who was making his 23rd appearance in the PGA Championship, performed like the part-time player that he has become over the last several years. On his way to a 1-over par 72, the 48-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer hit a smattering of good shots but hardly kept pace in a first round that saw a record 64 players shoot under par scores.

“It’s just the competitive flow,” he said after the round. “It took me probably three holes to get back into competitive flow again and get a feel for hitting the ball out there in competition, adrenaline, temperatures, green speeds. These are all things that normally I adjust to very quickly, and it just took me a few holes to get into it.”

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Tiger Woods holds the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 82nd PGA Championship on Aug. 20, 2000, at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.

David Cannon/Getty Images

By Friday afternoon, the tournament had been temporarily upstaged by the early morning arrest of Scottie Scheffler, the game’s No. 1 ranked player, for allegedly disobeying a police officer’s order at the entrance to the Valhalla Golf Club. Looking invincible like the Woods of old, Scheffler settled down after the shock of being handcuffed and hauled off to jail to shoot a 5-under par 66 to go into the weekend with a chance to win his second major of the year after taking the Masters last month. As Scheffler went off to answer questions about spending time in a Louisville holding cell, Woods was starting his round and would need a good one to avoid missing just his 15th cut in 93 major appearances.

Starting his second round two shots off the projected cut of 1 under par, Woods went seven over par in his first four holes to guarantee that he would miss the cut. It’s hard to imagine a worst scenario for a player already battling competitive rust and old age in a game dominated by much younger players. Here he was looking ahead to the next tournament, the next opportunity to show that he could still play at next month’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst, but stuck for five hours on a golf course where he had solidified his legend 24 years earlier in an epic duel with Bob May at the 2000 PGA Championship.

Back then when Woods was in the morning of his career, he turned the Jack Nicklaus-designed Valhalla Golf Club into a theater with a two-act play and May as his benevolent antagonist. In the final round in 2000, they matched each other shot for shot, creating a drama unprecedented in televised golf history. Then in the three-hole aggregate playoff, Woods survived to win by one stroke. That victory at Valhalla was the third leg of the Tiger Slam, which climaxed when Woods won the 2001 Masters.

But these are different times in the game of golf. In 2000, the PGA Tour was in the beginning of a period of monumental growth as an outsized talent with a mixed racial heritage was transforming what had long been identified as a country club sport played mostly by white people. To many, Woods was the game and the PGA Tour was his home. Now, no longer the masterful player capable of holding your attention for hours on Sunday with his feats of excellence, Woods has become a senior statesman in the game and a defender of what he has helped to build in the sport over the last 30 years.

As the biggest name on both the PGA Tour Policy Board and the PGA Tour Enterprises Board, Woods has become one of the most powerful figures in negotiations between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which funds LIV Golf. During what is turning out to be a slow and painful exit from competitive golf, Woods is helping to set the direction of the future of the game.

At Valhalla, he took on his new role.

“We’re trying to make the PGA TOUR the best it can be day-in and day-out,” he said Tuesday. “That’s one of the reasons why we have arguments and we have disagreements, but we want to do what’s best for everyone in golf and the TOUR.”

About the PGA Tour’s negotiations with LIV Golf, he said, “we’re making steps and it may not be giant steps, but we’re making steps.”

Easily missing the cut at the PGA Championship after a six-over par 77 on Friday, Woods didn’t take any steps toward reclaiming a place at the top of the pecking order of the best players. At Valhalla, he still commanded the biggest galleries like he did when he won there 24 years ago. Back then, he was looked upon by many as the savior of the game, who gave an inspiring and life-changing sermon on Sunday afternoons with his golf clubs.

That seemingly ubiquitous presence on Sundays is waning, but his star still shines brightly over these players still playing on the weekend on a stage he set for them.

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By: Farrell Evans
Title: Tiger Woods missed the PGA Championship cut but his legacy played on
Sourced From: andscape.com/features/tiger-woods-missed-the-pga-championship-cut-but-his-legacy-played-on/
Published Date: Sat, 18 May 2024 16:07:58 +0000

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Three Olympic All-Around Champions Headline U.S. Classic Field

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Simone Biles

Gymnastics fans are in for a massive treat at the U.S. Classic this weekend in Hartford, where the three most recent Olympic all-around champions – Gabby Douglas (London 2012), Simone Biles (Rio 2016), and Sunisa Lee (Tokyo 2020) – will headline a field of 50 senior athletes that also includes Olympic and world medalists Skye Blakely, Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles, Kayla DiCello, Shilese Jones, Joscelyn Roberson, Leanne Wong, and Lexi Zeiss.

The U.S. Classic acts as the final chance to earn a spot at the U.S. national championships, but with nearly all of the athletes we’ll see here already qualified, this year’s competition will be more of a practice round for the more important meets in the lead-up to the Olympic Games, with both nationals and trials coming up over the next month.

With this in mind, I’d expect many of the top competitors to show up not fully prepared, but ready to tackle some of the routines they’re hoping will make them contenders for the team next month, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a few of them show up looking to make a statement with their readiness and ability to stun this early on. This tactic doesn’t always work, as we sometimes see the U.S. Classic winners not even make the major international teams they’re after, but the Olympic year is always a little different, and I think we’ll be in for a few big all-around treats this year as well.

My expectations will remain on the low side, however, as the U.S. Classic is typically where we also see the most uncharacteristic mistakes as athletes are often shaking off the dust and trying to fight through early season nerves while also sometimes attempting new skills that don’t always go as planned. But again, while this competition could work in favor for some of the athletes on the bubble of potentially being named to the Olympic team, a weak performance here will not count anyone out.

For the few who do need to qualify to nationals, senior gymnasts must earn a 51.000 all-around score, a 39.000 three-event score, or a 26.400 two-event score, while juniors must earn a 49.500 all-around score.

The U.S. Classic and the associated Hopes Championships will be held at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, beginning on May 17 with with the Hopes Championships and the junior women’s competition, and concluding on May 18 with two sessions of senior competition. Complete streaming details are available thanks to USA Gymnastics, and a full list of competitors is below.

SENIOR WOMEN
Simone Biles
Skye Blakely
Ly Bui
Jade Carey
Dulcy Caylor
Jordan Chiles
Chloe Cho
Norah Christian
Nicole Desmond
Kayla DiCello
Amelia Disidore
Gabby Douglas
Tatum Drusch
Reese Esponda
Addison Fatta
Kieryn Finnell
Jayla Hang
Cambry Haynes
Jazmyn Jimenez*
Madray Johnson
Shilese Jones
Katelyn Jong
Sunisa Lee
Myli Lew
Kaliya Lincoln
Eveylynn Lowe
Nola Matthews
Konnor McClain
Tayor McMahon*
Annalisa Milton
Malea Milton
Zoey Molomo
Marissa Neal
Jazlene Pickens*
Brooke Pierson
Hezly Rivera
Joscelyn Roberson
Simone Rose
Lacie Saltzmann*
Audrey Snyder*
Izzy Stassi*
Ashlee Sullivan
Tiana Sumanasekera
Trinity Thomas
Brynn Torry
Sabrina Visconti*
CaMarah Williams
Leanne Wong
Kelise Woolford*
Lexi Zeiss

*Not yet qualified to nationals

JUNIOR WOMEN
Harlow Buddendeck*
Charleigh Bullock
Lavi Crain
Ally Damelio
Celia Frith-Carvalho*
Sadie Goldberg*
Greta Krob*
Jaysha McClendon
Caroline Moreau
Claire Pease
Lila Richardson*
Alessia Rosa*
Kylie Smith
Maliha Tressel
Tyler Turner
Trinity Wood*

* Not yet qualified to nationals

HOPES 13-14
Iyla Adkins
Ashley Andrews
Elisabeth Antone
Tiraia Ballard
Brooke Bazan
Addison Blosser
Lyla Brewer
Emmy Cunningham
Eva Doherty
Mavie Fitzgerald
Alessandra Gaines
Blake Green
Leah Higgis
Isla Lazzari
Anslee McCauley
Annabel Melnyk
Amia Pugh-Banks
Quinlyn Rollins
Simone Seed
Ansley Stevens
Sage Stiggers
Finley Young
HOPES 11-12
Giana Carroll
Laynie Cotton
Alden Dante
Elsie Flores
Gillian Haddad
Avery Haines
Charlotte Henk
Hadassah Kahlig
Sapphire Martin
Amariah Moore
Jazzy Saravia
Mattie Mae Young

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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By: Lauren
Title: Three Olympic All-Around Champions Headline U.S. Classic Field
Sourced From: thegymter.net/2024/05/17/three-olympic-all-around-champions-headline-u-s-classic-field/
Published Date: Fri, 17 May 2024 08:53:53 +0000

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Century Scrambling to Fill Second 24H Spa Entry

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Photo: BMW

Century Motorsport has been left scrambling to find a replacement driver lineup for a second Bronze Cup entry for the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa after the original driver combination fell through, according to team principal Nathan Freke.

In addition to its full-season Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup effort for Darren Leung, Toby Sowery and reigning Formula E world champion Jake Dennis, Freke revealed to Sportscar365 that the team successfully managed to acquire a second entry for the Belgian endurance classic.

A four-man lineup, set to compete in Bronze Cup, had been in place as part of a deal agreed in December, only for plans to fall through at late notice.

“Basically, we pulled all sorts of strings to get an entry because it was full,” Freke said.

“At the last minute they basically bailed out because one of the drivers has got some business issues and they’ve sort of forfeited the entry.

“But the entry’s been paid and it’s in. So, just the fact we pulled so many strings to try and get an entry, it just seems a shame to forgo it, really.”

Freke stated that the team is pushing “full throttle” to ensure a two-car presence at Spa, with the aim of putting together another lineup eligible of competing in Bronze Cup.

Century is set to make its first outing in the 24H Spa, having won the British GT Championship with Leung and Dan Harper last year.

Former racer turned team principal Freke described Century’s participation in the event as “the next logical thing” after it has been a consistent presence in British GT since it debuted in 2009.

It ran Ginetta machinery in GT4 for the first number of years. After a first venture into GT3 with the British brand in 2017, it switched to running BMW a year later.

“It’s been on our to-do list for quite some time now,” Freke said about the 24H Spa.

“We obviously had a very successful last year. We did the GT World Challenge with Darren [Leung], and it just seemed like the time is right.

“We need to make that step, and we did Dubai at the start of the year. Obviously finished first in Pro-Am and third overall and it’s just the next logical thing for us to do.

“And I guess because I put some pressure on SRO to get the entry, A, I don’t want to lose face, and B, I don’t want to squander the opportunity because next time you do the same thing, it’s not going to swing your way probably, because you’ve already called your favours in, if you like.”

Although Century is debuting in the 24H Spa this year, Freke says the team will be banking on its experience in the Hankook 24H Dubai.

“We’ve done Dubai since 2016. We’ve run two cars regularly there, albeit not GT3s. We actually ran three cars in Dubai [this year] with two GT3s and a GT4.

“So structural-wise and logistics-wise, it’s something we’re not unused to. Yes, it’s a big undertaking, and yes, Spa is a more prestigious race, but ultimately, a 24-hour race is a 24-hour race.

“The objective is to keep the car reliable, keep the mechanicals running well, obviously keep the drivers out of any incidents and just do a tidy job on the rest of it.

“So from a team point of view, I think we’re more than ready for it.”

———————–

By: Davey Euwema
Title: Century Scrambling to Fill Second 24H Spa Entry
Sourced From: sportscar365.com/sro/world-challenge-europe/century-scrambling-to-fill-second-24h-spa-entry/
Published Date: Thu, 16 May 2024 11:45:31 +0000

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