Parker put on a show

Mohegan - A Connecticut fans' guide to watching women's basketball:

If you play well against UConn, then clearly, you can play. Even if you can't. (Half of them thought Natalie Novosel would crush the WNBA by now. She plays sparingly.)

If you don't do so well against UConn, you're terrible. Even if you're not. (The other half thought Rebekkah Brunson was a bowser because Georgetown was perpetual lunchmeat against UConn in Brunson's days. She is among the best rebounders in women's basketball history.)

Myopia always looks the same.

But if nothing else, the WNBA's arrival here 10 years ago provided an epiphany. As in: There's a whole other basketball world out there. You can (gulp) play for someone else in college and still manage to rebound and chew gum at the same time.

And while there's a corps of fans who show up at Mohegan Sun Arena faithfully and genuinely want the Connecticut Sun to win, they've also managed an appreciation for the occasional heathen on the other team from some other college.

It was almost impossible to leave Mohegan Sun the other night without realizing why sports beat all. Some nights, your team losing just isn't as significant as the privilege of watching a great one be great.

Candace Parker was magnificent.

She may be the world's most recognizable women's basketball player, save perhaps Diana Taurasi. But for reasons of injury and pregnancy, we haven't seen Parker much since she turned professional in 2007. It was but the third time Wednesday night.

It's been our loss.

She scored 33 points. Sixteen rebounds. Eight assists. One notable block in the final minute. She made threes, scored inside. Nothing forced, either.

"She can be a one woman show," teammate Nneka Ogwumike said. "She was scoring a different way every time and not just scoring. The eight assists and the rebounds were ridiculous."

The WNBA couldn't have asked for a better illustration of its product before a national television audience. Really good game.

The Sun didn't win. They missed too many shots. But didn't play all that badly. And since it's June and they'll still be playing in September, it's doubtful coach Mike Thibault will cancel the program over one loss.

Parker was so good that she made Tina Charles' 19 points and 13 rebounds seem ordinary. Surely, we've seen Charles better than her 8-for-26 shooting. But she made a lefty hook and a righty hook, gave the Sun a 1-point lead without a minute left … and we doofuses in the media (OK, maybe it was just me) kept asking her what went wrong.

It was a memorable night at America's Most Beloved Arena. We got to see greatness. It was reminiscent of Parker's last act as a college player here. During her senior season at Tennessee, the Lady Vols made their final appearance in Hartford. Parker morphed into the Doctoress of Dunk.

Here was a two-minute stretch of the second half:

The Parker portion of the program began at the 18:54 mark when she went into the lane and hit a lefty hook that would have had Dave Cowens clapping.

Then teammate Sidney Spencer stole the ball and passed it to Parker on the dead run. Parker threw one down. And it wasn't contrived. It was a within-the-flow-of-the-game hammer that was exactly the right play to make at the time.

Then she blocked a shot.

Then she led the break and fed teammate Nicky Anosike a no-look pass that resulted in a layup.

It was here that they should have stopped the game so that basketball fans everywhere could have stood up, placed their hands over their hearts and belted out, "Mine eyes have seen the glory."

She didn't do anything that stole the show with quite the same exclamation point Wednesday night. And by now, that game is past tense for both teams. But in another sport that is becoming all about the playoffs, we have the pass the time somehow during the regular season.

Pretty fun way to do it on Wednesday.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.


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