Cheryl Miller was before her time. Rebecca Lobo was too tall. Lisa Leslie was missing that flash.
To date, no professional women's basketball player has been able to be a marketable icon: a true commercial star with an identifiable logo on a pair of shoes and a player who does something more than sell a bunch of college and WNBA jerseys.
Well if it's ever going to happen, now's the time. Because we haven't seen anything like Candace Parker. Here's what she has going for her. First of all, the girl can obviously play, scoring 20 points and pulling down almost nine rebounds a night in the SEC.
Consider that she's already well known. She of course won two titles at Tennessee.
Then, understand that's she's willing to take a chance on the money to try to be a marketing star in the United States. She's going to play for the Los Angeles Sparks, at least right now, instead of going overseas where she could get more than five times the contract money.
That Los Angeles market, though crowded, we don't hate either. She has a couple new wrinkles, too. She's known for her dunk.
And though you'll never hear this said publicly, she'll do better because she's good looking and she's heterosexual. (Parker is the fiancee of former Duke star and Sacramento Kings forward Shelden Williams.) While the WNBA has always done well with the lesbian population, it's easier for a Nike or adidas to sell clothes and shoes to purchasing moms and dads by showing them "womanly" women endorsing their products, a marketer told me.
It's funny come to think of it. I was once told that a marriage means the end of a sports marketing career for a endorser whose good looking and young.
Parker's marriage would somehow, in this case, make sports marketers more comfortable.
The guys that will give this marketing of Parker a shot will be the Goodwin Bros., Aaron and Eric, who know the marketing game well. They did the two biggest rookie shoe deals in sports with Lebron James and Kevin Durant and they won't leave anything on the table. After the Goodwins complete the shoe deal, which should go down in the next month or so, they can move on to exploring the larger categories, including associating her with high fashion and cosmetics.
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