Famous Faces React to Talk of Brittney Griner in NBA

By Ryan Heckman


Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor University prospect Brittney Griner‘s college career has come to an end. Her professional career lies await very soon. But, could her professional career be established first in the NBA rather than WNBA? That is exactly what Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban proposed just two days ago.

Via ESPN, Cuban was quoted saying that he would consider drafting Griner in the second round of the NBA Draft, giving her a shot to make the final roster. If he did not end up drafting her, he said he would indeed let her try out for the team and play some summer league ball.

Of course, just like most times Cuban opens his mouth, there has been quite the reaction over the past 48 hours. A few coaches and athletes have opened up about their thoughts on the subject.

One of the more talked about reactions to this debate is that of UCONN women’s head basketball coach Geno Auriemma who FOX Sports reported to have said, “I think it would be a sham. The fact that a woman could actually play right now in the NBA and compete successfully against the level of play that they have is absolutely ludicrous.”

Of course, there has been a large number of people who have lashed back at the coach, calling his remarks sexist and unfair. Auriemma has a point to some extent, but I won’t get into that now.

Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki did not discount the idea by any means, but admitted she would be at a disadvantage. Dallas Morning News noted Nowitzki saying, “You’re kind of caught between a 3 and a 4, it’s tough. You’ve got to be fast and athletic at that spot. You’ve got to be able to shoot. You’ve got to be able to go by people, guard people on the other end, chase people off of screen-and-rolls and post up. It’s tough, it’s tough.”

It would be tough indeed. Griner is only a few pounds over 200 and would be going up against much bigger men than that.

A few analysts from around ESPN had some interesting takes on the matter as well. Marc Stein, one of the senior NBA insiders, said in one of his latest columns, “A tryout for the summer-league squad? Absolutely. Why not? Burning a draft pick on her, even if it were No. 60, is another matter. Ditto for simply handing her a spot on the summer-league team, which the Mavs have already said they wouldn’t do. But to not let her come in and audition, individually or in a full-fledged practice setting, is needlessly small-minded if she wants to give it a whirl. If any college player in the women’s game has earned the right, it’s Griner.”

Fellow analyst Chris Broussard also chimed in via Twitter and his reaction was somewhat of mixed emotions since he is a self-proclaimed Griner fan. “She would never, ever, ever! be able to play in the NBA. A skinny 6-7, she would have to be a SF & she doesn’t have those skills.” He went on and tweeted, “Griner wouldn’t stand a chance of playing in the post in the NBA. Anyone who thinks she could play in the NBA simply does not know bball!!”

Ex-NBA player and coach Kurt Rambis offered his opinion on the air with ESPN, “I like the idea. If he (Cuban) really wants to give the opportunity for a girl to try out for his team, that’s great.” He went on to say that there is zero chance she makes an NBA roster, noting that there are some guards that are even 6’8”.

Shelly Smith, a women’s analyst for ESPN had more of a realistic approach to the topic. On the air she said, “She would get bounced around like a ping pong ball. I think it’s a great marketing strategy. I just don’t think it would work.”

As realistic as that is, it truly does not get more honest than former WNBA star Nancy Lieberman. USA Today quoted her saying, “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 (expletive).”

Take it from Lieberman, as she knows the feeling tried and true. She once spent a short three days on a stint with the Indiana Pacers back in the day.

Beyond all of the hype and dramatic reaction, I don’t see why Griner couldn’t get a shot to try out. But, beyond that it would be incredibly hard for her to succeed. I guess we’ll just have to find out come draft day.


Ryan Heckman is a Minnesota Timberwolves writer and NBA contributor for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google

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