Brittney Griner has dominated the world of women’s college basketball for the past four years. She has been named Big 12 Player of the Year and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year multiple times. She has assisted Baylor by blocking 736 shots, a record for men and women.
It has been expected that she will be drafted into the WNBA, but a simple statement by Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has caused a stir in the basketball world. Cuban extended an invitation to Griner for an opportunity to tryout for his NBA team. Griner replied via Twitter with “I would hold my own! Let’s do it.”
The idea of a woman in the NBA has ruffled a few feathers. Current coaches and players have been asked whether or not they think a female athlete could keep up with the overwhelming testosterone on the court. Celtics’ Paul Pierce stated that men are stronger, faster and more athletic than women. He can’t imagine a female playing in the NBA anytime soon because of the physicality of the game.
SportsCenter, ESPN’s flagship show, created #GrinerNBA to see the public’s opinion on the possibility of having a female playing in the big boy league. It is amazing how many variations of ignorance there are. Instead of focusing on her talent, followers tweeted that “a woman doesn’t belong in the NBA, she belongs in the kitchen.” Others took it as far as she would be “raped” on the court, or she doesn’t have the “man parts” to compete.
Despite the negativity that seems to be lingering over Griner’s head, she is receiving support. Former women basketball players Nancy Lieberman and Ann Meyers Drysdale see the situation from both sides. Lieberman, who played with a men’s team in the late 1980s, can guess how the male athletes will react. “There’s not a man who would sell his soul and let her come down and dunk on him. They are going to knock her on her ass,” Lieberman said to US Today last week. Even with hesitation, both women agree that Griner should go for it. This opportunity does not happen every day.
Griner has overruled just about every opponent she has come across. Her height and skill has made every challenger look inferior. Millions have watched her success, but very few have seen her compete on the court with the guys. She may be able to face the men and the media attention she will get for being the first female given the opportunity to play in today’s NBA, she might not. We will find out around the same time she does; at tryouts.