Campus falls on both sides of Griner as potential NBA player



Baylor Bears center Brittney Griner (42) cuts off a piece of net after the teamês 75-47 win over Iowa State in the women’s Big 12 Championship game in Dallas, Texas, Monday, March 11, 2013. (Richard W. Rodriguez/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

On April 2, Dallas Mavericks’ owner, Mark Cuban, made a seemingly flippant comment that had the potential to forever change the National Basketball Association.

Before the Mavericks played the Los Angeles Lakers last Tuesday, Cuban casually mentioned that he would consider drafting former Lady Bear Brittney Griner during the upcoming draft on June 27.

Cuban reportedly said, “”If she’s the best on the board, I will take her … You never know unless you give somebody a chance.”

Though the statement was conditional, it sparked a media firestorm. Student athletes have differing ideas on the possibility of Griner playing in the NBA here on campus.

Proponents, both on campus and in the media, of this idea cheered on Griner’s already proven abilities. They essentially said, with resounding gusto, that if Griner has the skill set then she should be allowed to play. Even before graduation from Baylor, Griner was hailed as one of the greatest players to ever play college basketball by almost every sportscaster, fan, teammate and/or coach.

“I think it is double edged … it would be good for the WNBA to have her because she is a high-profile player. Honestly, if she’s able, she should [play for the NBA],” senior and club soccer player Ashton Robison.

As a Lady Bear, Griner won Big 12 Player of the Year three years in a row as well as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year four years in a row. In January of this year, Griner broke the NCAA’s women’s career records for blocks when she landed her 664th block. Seeing that she averaged roughly 5 blocks per game, give or take, it is no surprise that she successfully broke that record.

On the other hand, critics of Griner accused Cuban of launching a publicity stunt by using Griner as a potential meal ticket to make more money for his franchise.

“I think she should just play in the WNBA … She would meet her potential,” junior Valenica White who plays basketball for the university said. “She would have to work twice as hard to be as good as [NBA players]. People would watch just see how she would do.”

Additionally, those opposed have said that Griner, physically, would not be able to match players at her same position of post.

Despite standing at 6’ 8” with the ability to dunk, Griner is significantly smaller than a majority of post players in the professional league. Critics use Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan as examples for the paradigm of what a post player should physically look like. Honestly, current players in the NBA can barely match Howard and Jordan, so that point is moot.

Some critics note the possible issues with safety concerning Griner playing with an all-male team. For example, some worried about overstepping boundaries when blocking her in future games. While others commented on a possible “culture change” that the NBA would undergo with a woman on the team.

Truthfully, the misogyny that followed Cuban’s conditional statement was completely disgusting, unwarranted and juvenile. There was a dizzying amount of transphobic jokes and remarks lobbed at Griner through social media. Some tweets questioned Griner’s gender because, obviously, no woman could possibly be that successful at collegiate basketball.

Though no student expressed any disgusting misogynistic statements during their interview, they did note the physical differences required by the WNBA and NBA.

“She should go wherever she feels she can do the best… where she can make the most out of her career and herself,” senior tennis player Jonathan Stockdale said.

Though Stockdale supports Griner’s virtual right to try out for the NBA, he does express concern about the physicality of NBA games. Stockdale said “with male athletes games [can be] too physical to the point of fights” because “physically, it [would be] hard with matchups.”

“I think she should just play in the WNBA… She would meet her potential,” junior Valenica White who plays basketball for the university said. “She would have to work twice as hard to be as good as [NBA players]. People would watch just see how she would do.”

With Baylor’s loss against Louisville during the women’s NCAA tournament, Griner will be able to make her decision soon. Whatever her decision, Griner will be doing something extraordinary. She has the potential to either be remembered as pioneer in NBA or a titan in the WNBA.