The Las Vegas Aces attempted to introduce Candace Parker to fans Tuesday, an effort that was overshadowed by the team’s choice to avoid addressing a major issue that the WNBPA is now investigating.
The reigning WNBA champions are an incredibly exciting team, something that rings even more true after the team secured the "huge victory," as Aces president Nikki Fargas called it, of acquiring two-time WNBA champion Candace Parker.
The presser represented the team's first media availability since concerning allegations of pregnancy discrimination surfaced in Dearica Hamby's farewell statement to the Aces after she was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks.
During the introductory press conference, Fargas, Parker and head coach Becky Hammon agreed on how dominant the Aces can be with Parker’s addition.
"Candace has always been about winning. And, I think that's the one thing that stands out to me about her career everywhere she's gone, she's won. And so to add her into our locker room, I'm excited to learn from her," Hammon said of the two-time WNBA champion.
Parker even wins off the court and will become the first woman to call the NBA All-Star game later this month, something that couldn't be discussed before the conference came to an abrupt conclusion.
When Las Vegas Review Journal reporter Andy Yamashita began to ask a question about Hamby early into the conference, he was interrupted by the Aces’ director of media relations and told that Fargas needed to leave to attend a meeting.
In case folks are interested in seeing how this was handled on Candace's intro press conference...Here is the video of @ANYamashita trying to ask his question about Dearica Hamby: https://t.co/D3lMME5cAV pic.twitter.com/t4fYChCs6f— Ben Pickman (@benpickman) February 7, 2023
Then, reporters were told that the next question would be the last and the conference ended.
Fargas opened the presser with a general statement that seemed to relate to Hamby’s claims, but did not specifically address them.
"Here at the Las Vegas Aces, we do make sure and we will always continue to make sure that our players and their families will always be in the forefront of who we are as a franchise," Fargas said. "We're going to always be supportive of our players in that regard, and we will always demonstrate that we will act accordingly when you are discussing any situation surrounding the wellbeing of our athletes."
Although the Aces utilized images of Hamby and her daughter Amaya often during her eight-year tenure with the team, Hamby’s statement alleges that the team was not actually supportive of the two-time Sixth Player of the Year’s role as a mother.
According to her statement, the Aces promised Hamby things to "entice" her to sign a contract extension before last season. Someone in the organization then allegedly accused her of signing while knowing she was pregnant for a second time. Hamby was also allegedly subject to questions about her commitment to the sport and “disgusting comments” before she was ultimately traded.
Hamby spoke about the trade that left her "heart broken," during her introductory press conference with the Sparks, saying that she cried in her first call with head coach Curt Miller.
She noted then that her claims have nothing to do with any Aces players. "Don't take it out on the girls," Hamby said. "It's not Candace [Parker’s] fault; it's not A'ja [Wilson] or Chelsea [Gray’s] fault,” Hamby said. “I'm confident that the league will do what they need to do.”
Contrary to the former Aces’ wishes, the team’s decision to stay silent on her allegations has only brought them more attention — a development that was illustrated during a press conference that should have been all about Parker.