But if there was one person in the world who could relate to what was going through Maya Moore’s head as she took the court for her WNBA debut Friday night at the Staples Center, it was the 6-foot-5 woman with the full-length gold sleeve down her left arm standing across from her: Candace Parker.
In a league that has survived 15 seasons, survived on the cache and charisma of its stars, no two young stars are expected to burn brighter and do as much as Parker and Moore.
Three years earlier, it was Parker debuting to a nationally televised audience, needing to prove all the hype and hope invested in her was justified.
Now, three years wiser, it was Parker standing across from Moore as the Minnesota rookie began her own journey. Ultimately, Parker would get the last laugh as the Sparks rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to win 82-74 in front of 13,589.
Before the game I asked Parker if she had any advice for Moore.
She paused a minute before answering as a Sparks medical trainer massaged her surgically repaired left knee inside the team’s training room.
She has spent too much time in here these last three years.
“That’s a good question,” Parker said. I wasn’t sure if she was thinking of a good answer, or deciding whether to offer advice to a player who will surely be one of her chief rivals for years to come.