If Brittney Griner is smart, she will stay away from the NBA.
That might sound extremely sexist, but it is for her own good.
Griner should definitely have the opportunity to try out for the NBA, but that does not mean she should try to play with the boys.
The debate about Griner’s post-graduation career options has been fueled by two giant figures in the basketball world, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who said he would welcome Griner to try out for his team.
“If she is the best on the board, I will take her,” he said (via ESPN). “I’ve thought about it. I’ve thought about it already. Would I do it? Right now, I’d lean toward yes, just to see if she can do it. You never know unless you give somebody a chance, and it’s not like the likelihood of any late-50s draft pick has a good chance of making it.”
University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma disagreed with Cuban.
“Mark Cuban is a genius,” he said last Wednesday (via the Los Angeles Times). “He’s done a lot for basketball. But his genius would take a huge hit if he drafted her. It would be a public relations thing, a sham. To think a woman could compete to the level of [NBA players] is ludicrous.
It is not like women have never tried to make the NBA before. Ann Meyers tried out for the Indiana Pacers in 1979 and Nancy Lieberman did the same with the Los Angeles Lakers two years later.
In this case though, Auriemma is 100 percent right in saying that Griner is good, but she just is not built for NBA success.
No one is saying that Griner should not be given the chance to test her mettle in the NBA. The important question here is, what is the best move for Griner’s career?
Is she better off giving the NBA a shot, potentially getting drafted as a publicity stunt and playing just enough to keep her relevant? Or will she have a better time in the WNBA, where she will take the league by storm and probably be its most recognizable face by the end of her first season?
Sure, she has the potential for a bigger contract in the NBA. If she goes for that though, she had better check her ego at the door. No one will be showering accolades on her as they did during her college days.
To be fair, Griner has earned this hype. She dominated the world of women’s college basketball during her four years at Baylor. She finished her college career with a national championship and the second most points in Women’s NCAA Division I history with 3,283 points. Her 748 career blocks are the most in both men’s and women’s college basketball.
Then there are Griner’s 18 dunks, 11 of which she threw down her senior year. Keep in mind that she was doing that against players probably a full foot or more shorter than her.
Griner should be proud of those accomplishments. Here is the thing though—dunking 18 times is not impressive by male standards. In fact, it is pretty sub-par.
And that is the main reason Griner cannot make it in the NBA. As talented as she is, she just cannot physically hang with NBA players.
Griner is 6’8” and about 207 pounds. You know who else is 6’8”? LeBron James, and he also happens to be 250 pounds of pure muscle.
Imagine Griner in the paint while James is barreling toward her trying to get to the basket. How can she ever hope to stop him?
Heck, how could she stop someone like Deron Williams, who is only 6’3” but weighs slightly more than her? This has nothing to do with talent or fairness. Biology is just going to make Griner’s life difficult in the NBA.
Then there is the fact that no matter how successful Griner is in the NBA, her stint in the league would always be seen as a plea for publicity. That outcome is inevitable, whether the team that took her intended to use her that way or not.
That will definitely be how she is viewed if Cuban drafts her. He is known as an eccentric billionaire who is not afraid to open his mouth or make bold moves. Everyone would write off Griner’s presence as another crazy Cuban experiment.
Griner, however, appears to be excited about the prospect of playing in the NBA.
“I would hold my own! Let’s do it,” she tweeted in response to Cuban.
Confidence can only get you so far. Griner will have a tough time competing with the men and will be used to sell tickets more than to win basketball games.
For the sake of her career and legacy, she should forget about the NBA and focus on the WNBA. Sure, there is no novelty there, but would she rather be the best player in that league or a walking sideshow in the NBA?
Hopefully, she ends up spending the rest of her career dunking over the likes of Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi.
It would be the best move for her in every possible way.