by Sabrina Scott / @SabrinaScott22
Several months ago we had the debate about lowering the rims. Now, we have Brittney Griner to the NBA making headlines. I guess I should be happy that women’s basketball is giving people something to talk about. But outlandish stories aren’t the discussions we should be having about women’s hoops.
Some say, any talk is progress. I’m not willing to go there just yet.
Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, stated last week that he’d give the 6-8 Baylor star a shot at making his team. He said, “If she is the best on the board, I will take her.”
Griner tweeted back, “I would hold my own! Lets do it.” I don’t blame her for responding, she believes in herself. But Cuban really doesn’t deserve a response.
Let’s take his comments for what they really are: a PR stunt. He wants attention, and he wants the hoopla to follow Griner to the NBA summer league, where she would potentially first play.
All that’s happened since Cuban’s attention-seeking comments, is the disparaging of Griner and her talents. And with that, criticism of women’s basketball in general.
I don’t mean to doubt Griner’s abilities, but this isn’t the rec. The NBA is the highest level of basketball in the world. The best. The biggest, strongest, quickest, most versatile athletes in the world.
I know how tough it is just playing against guys at the rec.
In the men’s game, Griner’s talents don’t transfer over. What makes her special in the women’s game would not even be a factor against men. Size, athleticism, strength, speed, length, quickness.
Against women, she’s a 6-8 dominant center. In the majority of her games while at Baylor, she had an enormous size advantage. And then on top of that, she has phenomenal athleticism unseen in a 6-8 woman. Put those two things together, and you have a defensive stopper who controls the paint, and a presence in the post offensively who demands a double (triple?) team every time she touches the ball.
Against men, she’s a small forward (maybe a power forward, but that’d be a stretch). I’ve seen Brittney Griner play, nothing about her game says small forward.
That’s the obvious argument.
But now, instead of praising and celebrating a talent the women’s game has never seen, this has turned into a diss—for lack of a better term. It’s me, and everyone else who is having this conversation, saying what Griner is not. Putting her down, and saying why she wouldn’t succeed. Instead, we should appreciate and celebrate her talents for what they are.
What I should be saying is this: stop comparing. Respect the women’s game for what it is. It’s a separate sport. Simple as that.
We don’t need to say that women should/could compete with men. It’s not cutting-edge. It’s not an enlightened way to think. It’s unnecessary.
In what other sport do they talk about women competing against men? Did anyone ever talk about Mia Hamm competing for the US Olympic Men’s soccer team?
Brittney Griner is an enormously talented basketball player. And she is a dominant physical presence. She is a game changer. Let her be just that.
Is it a compliment to ask if can she play in the NBA? Yes, of course! But don’t take the conversation any further than that. Because once we do, the compliments end there.
Sabrina Scott is a 10-year professional basketball veteran (two seasons in Italy, Portugal, Poland, Bosnia, two seasons in Sweden, Germany, and now in France). For more on the life of a pro women’s basketball player, check out Sabrina’s blog.