Dishin & Swishin 3/24/16 Podcast: Stanford legend and WNBA player Candice Wiggins hangs up her sneakers
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When Stanford Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer was asked about the retirement announcement from former Cardinal star and WNBA player Candice Wiggins she joked, “does she still have any college eligibility?” While Stanford prepares for the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament for the ninth straight season, Wiggins, at the age of 29, is putting the brakes on her playing career.
“She’s really going to be missed in the game,” said junior guard Erica McCall about Wiggins, “and I know a lot of Stanford fans are numb but they are ecstatic that she played at Stanford and made the program what it was.”
Cardinal fans reveled in a historic moment last week when VanDerveer faced another Stanford great, Jennifer Azzi, going coach-against-coach in the first round of the NCAA tournament. They also have a great deal of pride in Wiggins’ impressive legacy on the Farm, one that is right up there with Azzi’s.
In March 2008, during a game of the second round of the NCAA tournament, Wiggins scored a career-high 44 points, pulled down 10 rebounds, and dished out eight assists in a win over UTEP to lead her team to the Sweet 16. Days later, she produced 41 points helping to put the Cardinal back in the Final Four for the first time since 1997.
I have found that, sometimes, the greatest things happen after you say goodbye https://t.co/8uuTo8xIpS
— dana (@candicewiggins) March 22, 2016
Wiggins announced her departure from the court in a poetic essay on the Player’s Tribune earlier this week. She talked about injuries she’s had to endure, including a ruptured Achilles while playing for the Lynx, a team that she won a championship with, and her late dad, former pro baseball player Alan Wiggins who passed away from AIDS when she was a child. However, the overall tone of her announcement was optimistic.
“I’m happier than I’ve ever been,” she wrote. “When I think about the next chapter in my life, I can’t help but grin from ear to ear.”
VanDerveer expressed joy for Wiggins.
“I’m happy for her because she is excited to go on to kind of a new journey,” said VanDerveer. “She is our only four-time All-American. I loved coaching Candice. She is a fabulous competitor. I know that she will do well in whatever direction she goes in because she is just driven. I’m happy for her that she is excited to make the change, but coaching her was one of the absolute coaching highlights of my life. I loved coaching her.”
Wiggins was the third pick in the 2008 WNBA draft. She played for five years with the Minnesota Lynx and also spent time on the rosters of the Tulsa Shock, Los Angeles Sparks and New York Liberty. She earned Sixth Woman of the Year honors during her rookie season and averaged over 13 points per game in each of her first three years in the league.
Her former Stanford teammate and basketball analyst Ros Gold-Onwude was also effusive in her praise of Wiggins as a player and a person.
Candice Wiggins is the fiercest basketball player I’ve ever played with. She is a winner and teams she’s on find success. Whether it was leading Stanford back to a Final Four, or winning a championship with the Minnesota Lynx, or helping the New York Liberty back to the Eastern Conference Finals, Candice has been integral to elite programs.
I remember playing alongside her at Stanford and how much I trusted her on the court. We had each other’s back. She was a Warrior. I’ve literally seen her say “NO, we are not losing” and will the team to victory. After she graduated from Stanford, I often asked myself in practices and games, what would Candice do here? Her intensity, competitive nature, ecstatic joy, and fierceness inspired and influenced me. Still to this day some of my best basketball memories are alongside Wiggins.
I’ve also enjoyed covering her professional career as a broadcaster. She has the heart of a lion and I wish her the best as she walks away from the game. The game gave her a lot and she, in turn, gave it all of her. If you know Candice Wiggins, you know she is a multifaceted threat. I’m excited to see what’s next for her and wish her the best. Whatever it is, she will crush it! #StanfordSisters #Respect
Even though she left Stanford several years ago, Wiggins’ influence is still felt by current players.
“She was one of my favorite inspirations coming here to Stanford,” said McCall. “I mean she’s done so much for the program and a lot of times when people think Stanford, it’s Candice Wiggins. She’s really taught a lot, myself and my teammates, what it is to be a great basketball player and how you energize yourself on the court.”
A short list of Wiggins’ accomplishments at Stanford include:
- 2008 Pac-10 Player of the Year
- 2008 Wade Trophy Player of the Year
- 2008 First Team WBCA/Kodak All-American
- 2008 First Team AP All-American
- 2008 Pac-10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player
- 2007 Pac-10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player
- 2007 All-Pac-10 Selection
- 2007 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year
- 2006 Pac-10 Player of the Year
- 2005 Pac-10 Freshman and Player of the Year
- 2005 Pac-10 Tournament MVP
Enjoy the special edition podcast with Wiggins and Dishin & Swishin host David Siegel!
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) March 22, 2016
— Carolyn Swords (@CarolynSwords) March 22, 2016