One of the most accomplished professional basketball players in this city’s history is doing something completely appropriate for this glorious time in her career.

Candace Parker is dancing.

She has just helped lead her defending WNBA champion Sparks to another victory, it’s a Thursday night in the middle of summer, Staples Center is cool and the music is hot and she’s standing at midcourt with teammates bobbing and swaying and why not?

“When you’re young, the game is going to be there … always going to be there … always going to be there” Parker says. “But suddenly I look up and I’m 31 and people ask, ‘How much longer are you going to play,’ and I’m like, ‘Hold on, wait a minute, you want me to retire right now? Whoa!”

One of the greatest players in women’s basketball history — a two-time WNBA MVP, a WNBA Finals MVP, and two-time Olympic gold medalist — is now doing something else completely appropriate for this glorious time in her career.

Candace Parker is sharing that dance with her 8-year-old daughter, Lailaa.

Moments after her teammates complete the celebration of a 10-point comeback victory over the Connecticut Sun, Parker summons Lailaa from her courtside seat. The mother and daughter hug and twirl and walk together toward a tunnel ringed by hundreds of cheering fans soaking in a familiar scene.

“I have a better perspective these days, I’m so appreciative of every opportunity I’ve been given,” Parker says. “You don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring, you don’t know anything, so I enjoy every moment.”

It’s worth coming downtown in the next couple of months and enjoying those moments with her. In her 10th season as a Spark, Parker has finally shrugged off the burdens of giant expectations to become a portrait of unselfish joy. It’s a blast to watch.

She might be a legend, but she no longer acts like the best player on her own team. She is a legitimate Los Angeles superstar, yet she doesn’t show a shred of Hollywood attitude, especially on the court, where she enables, empowers, and last season set the stage for fellow Spark Nneka Ogwumike to become the league MVP.

“In our six years together, it’s been most impressive to see her grow as a person,” teammate Alana Beard said of Parker. “She’s understanding that these types of moments don’t last a lifetime. She’s starting to grasp that and take advantage of that.”

Just last week Parker won the ESPY Award for Best WNBA Player. Yet down the stretch in their recent victory over Connecticut, she helped the Sparks fend off a late challenge by making it about her teammates.

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