Sky’s Candace Parker doesn’t want to talk retirement, but expresses confidence in future stars like Rhyne Howard

The impending retirements of Sylvia Fowles and Sue Bird and looming retirement of Candace Parker has the WNBA in a state of flux.

In its 26th season, the WNBA is at a three-way junction, merging past, present and future. This past weekend during WNBA All-Star festivities, all three lanes of the league were on display for the game, which had the most viewers since 2015 with a peak audience of 768,000.

One player marked as a future star is Rhyne Howard, the lone rookie All-Star, who was back at Wintrust Arena on Tuesday night as the Sky faced her Atlanta Dream.

“Rhyne is a beast,” Parker said Sunday. “Becky [Hammon] and I were talking about Rhyne and just how she’s just different, like the way she moves, the way she pulls up. I know there’s little things maybe the fans don’t see but us players see, like the spin she puts on the ball when she’s laying it up, she’s different.”

Howard is the Dream’s leading scorer, averaging 15.1 points per game. She has helped the Dream go from rebuilding to on the verge of their first postseason berth since 2018.

Tuesday night, the Sky held Howard to just two points in the first 20 minutes of their 90-75 victory. Meanwhile, Parker had 20 in the first-half. She finished with a double-double and a season-high 31 points, nine points shy of her career-high 40.

Kahleah Copper added 23 points and seven rebounds and Emma Meesseman scored eight of her 10 points in the fourth quarter. The Sky outscored the Dream 30-10 in the final 10 minutes.

The Sky held Howard to seven points, two rebounds and three assists. Cheyenne Parker led the Dream with 14 points and six rebounds.

Wintrust Arena had distinctly comparable energy to last year’s WNBA Finals. When the Sky took the lead off a three from Parker midway through the fourth quarter, the 7,074 fans in attendance jumped to their feet. With every made basket that followed they rose again.

Unlike Bird and Fowles, Parker hasn’t said when she will retire, but she has confidence in the stars that will follow her.

Fowles said when considering the stages of the WNBA that stars who came before her, like Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes and Dawn Staley planted the seeds, her era of players helped lay the foundation and players like Howard are tasked with ensuring the league thrives.

“To see these girls flourish and think about what they’re going to be like in the next couple of years I think is going to be amazing,” Fowles said Sunday. “They are going to do really good things for our league. I just hope to see everybody flourishing in their own way.”

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