When you are six-foot-eight, three-time All-American, Big 12 Player of the Year, a national champion, and can dunk with the best of them you might be thinking about a long career in professional basketball. Now, thanks to Mark Cuban, Brittney Griner might be getting a chance to prove women can make it in the NBA.
Before Tuesday night’s game, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said, “If she is the best on the board, I will take her. 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.”
Is this just a publicity stunt or is it a serious attempt at breaking down barriers? Only Mark Cuban would know the answer to that. Griner, if drafted, would be the second woman in history to try out for an NBA team. In 1979 Ann Meyers tried out for the Indiana Pacers. However, for an NBA team to use a draft pick, even if it is a second-round choice, on a woman would be unprecedented.
Cuban is a smart business mind. He knows the benefits of adding the first woman to an NBA roster and how that would potentially impact ticket sales, marketing and everything in between. Cuban wouldn’t give Griner a roster spot just to give her a roster spot. He added, “She’d still have to make the team. I’m not going to carry her just to carry her. I don’t think, anyways. But I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to giving her the opportunity.”
Griner has had one of the most storied college careers in women’s basketball. She averaged 23.8 points, 4.1 blocks, and 9.4 rebounds per game. For her career at Baylor, Griner averaged 22.2 points per game for a total of 3283 points in her career, 8.82 rebounds, and tallied 748 blocks.
The NBA has been inclusive of the WNBA for years, featuring stars from the women’s league in the All-Star events. However, an NBA team drafting Griner could break down barriers and open up chances for women in all sports, especially if she makes it. The NFL recently made headlines by working out a woman, Lauren Silberman but that ended in failure when Silberman failed to impress scouts and injured herself after only a couple of kicks.
Griner, however, is a legitimate prospect. She has the size and ability to play inside the paint that could lead to some success in the NBA. Even if Cuban is looking at this purely from a business standpoint it could open the door to bigger and better things for women in other sports.
I think it is fitting that in the year a major motion picture about Jackie Robinson comes out a woman is knocking on the door of the NBA. Griner should be given a chance to play in the NBA if she wants to. The only real hurdle would be a separate dressing room and a private room on the road. Other than that we are advanced enough as a society to accept women, homosexuals, and everyone in between in the sports we watch and most athletes would be accepting of those individuals within the clubhouse. Why not start with Griner and see what she can do on the court. This is a smart move, in both a business and social sense, by Cuban. I just hope he follows through with it.