Today, I finally saw a Twitter trending topic that didn't make me want to barf. In fact, it made me smile a huge WNBA fan smile: Chicago Sky superstar Candace Parker was announced as a cover athlete for NBA 2K22, the first woman to have that honor.
How good is Candace Parker? She’s a multiple-time league MVP. Last year she was named defensive player of the year. She has two Olympic gold medals. She’s so good that, when I watched her live at the New York Liberty/Chicago Sky game a few weeks ago, I felt more honored to watch her (and her team, of course) destroy my beloved Liberty than angry (mostly!). She can also hold her own against Shaq while discussing the modern game:
Candace Parker making Shaq look real dumb while talking about modern pick-n-roll basketball pic.twitter.com/TQYwVVrVmx
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) March 3, 2021
The cover image is gorgeous too, with a close-up illustration of Parker making a shot on the left and a full-body image of her soaring on the right.
But… it’s not like she’s the only cover athlete. She’s gracing the special 25th anniversary WNBA Edition, sold in North America at Gamestops. There are multiple NBA stars on other editions of the game.
Not wanting to simply fall into the trap of falling head over heels celebrating “firsts” as our reporter Natalie Weiner often writes about, this is still really cool to see. According to a Bloomberg piece, the star called the cover “... A step in the right direction… Being able to see women on the cover, visible in leadership positions, it helps not just in sport but also just in the boardroom, in business or everything.”
She also tweeted the cover with this: “I’m honored to work with a company that’s investing in women and betting on us to succeed. I’m hopeful there will be many more badass females to follow.” There were two bicep emojis after that, but those don’t come across well in our CMS. Just picture them there!
Writer Hannah Withiam also made the very salient point that this isn’t just good inspiration for young women, but it’s also great for young men (and honestly, people of any gender) to see:
Having women on the cover of video games is not only instrumental for young girls but also for young boys, to see that celebrating/elevating athletes in women's sports is normal. I know it would have helped change the discourse around sports for me and my brothers growing up.
— Hannah Withiam (@HannahWithiam) July 14, 2021
Now, let’s talk about getting Betnijah Laney a cover for the next year.