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Parker leads WNBA All-Star team that will face US Olympians

July 1, 2021 GMT
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Chicago Sky forward Candace Parker, center, makes her move against the defense of Connecticut Sun forward DeWanna Bonner, left, and center Brionna Jones in the second half of a WNBA basketball game Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Uncasville, Conn. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day via AP)
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Chicago Sky forward Candace Parker, center, makes her move against the defense of Connecticut Sun forward DeWanna Bonner, left, and center Brionna Jones in the second half of a WNBA basketball game Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Uncasville, Conn. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Candace Parker will headline a WNBA All-Star team that will face the U.S. Olympic squad in Las Vegas on July 14.

Parker, who was not chosen for the 2016 Olympic team after helping the U.S. win gold medals in 2008 and 2012, was chosen for her sixth All-Star appearance.

“It means a lot, you never take for granted the opportunity to be an All-Star,” said Parker, who will be announcing the basketball medal rounds for NBC at the Tokyo Games and will be representing her hometown city for the first time in her career.

Joining the Chicago forward are her Sky teammates Courtney Vandersloot and Kahleah Copper, who is one of eight players making their All-Star debuts.

“I saw Sloot this morning and she was like you deserve it. I’m so proud of you,” Copper said. “That was basically it. Talked to Candace a little bit about it.”

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Other All-Stars announced Wednesday include Las Vegas players Liz Cambage and Dearica Hamby, who will be playing in their home arena at Mandalay Bay. The Connecticut Sun have a trio of players headed to the game — DeWanna Bonner, Jonquel Jones and Brionna Jones.

New York’s Betnijah Laney, Dallas’ Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally and Atlanta’s Courtney Williams round out the WNBA’s team. All four players are first-time All-Stars.

The WNBA team will be co-coached by Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson.

That team will face a U.S. squad led by Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, who will be making their fifth Olympic appearance. It’s a record 12th All-Star Game for Bird and 10th for Taurasi — tying her with Tamika Catchings for second most all-time.

Fans, media and players voted in 36 players as part of a pool that the league’s 12 head coaches chose from to compile the WNBA’s All-Star team. Elena Delle Donne, who hasn’t played all season while she recovers from back surgery, was part of that pool thanks to strong fan support. Nneka Ogwumike, who was surprisingly left off the U.S. Olympic team, was also in the 36-player pool, but not chosen by the coaches. She’s been sidelined by a sprained knee since early June.

The game, sponsored by AT&T, is another way the league is celebrating its 25th season. This is the first time that the league has held an All-Star Game in an Olympic year since 2000. The WNBA played an exhibition in New York in 2004 at Radio City Music Hall, but it wasn’t considered an All-Star Game.

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