- Candace Parker says fights, like Draymond Green and Jordan Poole’s, “happen a lot” in the WNBA.
- She said that healthier, more competitive teams are the ones where players say “how they really feel.”
- “I would almost rather a blow up, and then we’re able to solve the problem, versus people being quiet,” she said.
Draymond Green’s confrontation with teammate Jordan Poole – which ended in a punch to Poole’s face during a Golden State Warriors practice – came as little surprise to Candace Parker.
“Obviously I think that there’s a place and a time for it and, you know, do emotions get the best of us sometimes? Absolutely,” Parker told Insider. “But it is a part of it, and it’s about dealing with it with the team and not having to explain to everyone.
“And I think that’s what Golden State was trying to accomplish,” she added.
During an October 5 practice that grew increasingly chippy, Green and Poole got into an argument that became physical. At one point, Poole – a fourth-year guard who just earned a nine-figure extension with Golden State – shoved Green in the chest. The four-time NBA champion and four-time All-Star responded by punching his teammate in the face. The altercation was caught on tape, which was leaked to TMZ two days later.
Green has since apologized and rejoined the team after a brief hiatus. Poole says his focus of him is now on winning another title alongside Green.
Parker – a two-time WNBA MVP – explained to Insider that those kinds of situation “happen a lot” in the WNBA.
“Yes, absolutely, that has happened,” she added, referring to intra-team fights the WNBA.
But Parker, who has won a pair of championships with two different franchises over the course of her 15-year WNBA career, doesn’t necessarily see conflict between teammates as a bad thing. She thinks that players “expressing themselves” is crucial to building and maintaining team chemistry.
Besides, “whether it’s a physical altercation, whether it’s words,” saying what needs to be said is preferable to saying nothing at all.
“The toughest teams I’ve ever been on – and by toughest I mean the hardest to play in the environment – are when people don’t say what needs to be said,” Parker said. “You know, I would almost rather a blow up, and then we’re able to solve the problem, versus people being quiet in meetings and not saying how they really feel or expressing themselves.
“Those are the teams that lose,” she added.
One of Parker’s Chicago Sky teammates – 2021 WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper – told Insider back in August that the seven-time WNBA All-Star is known as a talker on their team. When she first joined her hometown Chicago squad ahead of the 2021 season, Parker filled a niche that Copper hadn’t seen on the team before.
“Everybody has a different leadership style, but we’ve never had a communicating leader, who was very upfront and would be able to get the point across directly,” Copper said. “I watch Candace all the time. Candace, when she first got here, was just a great addition and she just inspired me in a lot of ways. Just communicating directly, whatever it is that we need to talk about, because ultimately we all wanna win. “
“She’s really good at holding herself accountable and also holding everyone else accountable when we need it the most,” she added.
Parker also believes that the more “competitive” teams are more likely to have players with the passion to fight for what they believe is best for the team. In other words: They want to win.
She referenced “The Last Dance,” the mega-popular ESPN docuseries capturing Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls dynasty. During one of the series’ 10 episodes, fans learned that Jordan once punched then-teammate Steve Kerr – who now coaches Green and Poole with the Warriors – during a Bulls practice.
“The teams that usually are fighting for things or upset or whatever usually are playing for something and usually are winning,” Parker said.