Normally, there would be nothing newsworthy about Dallas Mavericks outspoken owner Mark Cuban discussing the possibility of drafting a 6-foot-8 blocking machine out of Baylor University in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft.
While the school has produced some NBA talent, none so far have really turned out to be more than role players. Cuban, however, is of the belief that his potential “draft find” may be the first Baylor Bear to break the mold and SHE would be doing so in more ways than one.
To ESPN and any news outlet that would listen, Cuban is actually entertaining the possibility of drafting Brittney Griner, one of the best women’s basketball players to ever step on to a college court.
In her career at Baylor, Griner has been one of the best and has helped Baylor to be one of the best as well. In 2012, as the AP Division I Player of the Year, Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Big 12 Player of the Year and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Griner led the Bears to a National Championship and the NCAA women’s first ever 40-0 season.
In just four years, Griner impressed and amazed everyone–apparently even Mavericks’ owner Cuban–with her abilities on the court. She is just the second women in history to dunk twice in a single game and is the first to ever score at least 2,000 (3,283) points and block 500 (748) shots.
Her 18 career dunks are more than all women in history combined and her incredible number of blocks is the all-time high for both men and women.
Even as a female, Griner’s height and arm span of 86″ would give her the stature of an above average NBA player. She has been imposing in the women’s game but against stronger male bodies, she likely would not be as much of a threat.
That said, Cuban being Cuban, has put the option on the table even going as far as to say in an article on ESPN, that if the Mavericks don’t draft her, he has “no problem whatsoever” in extending an invitation for her to try out for a spot on the summer league roster.
Griner of course is excited about the opportunity, as the ESPN article also reports her tweeting: “I would hold my own! Let’s do it.”
But for Griner and for Cuban, especially Cuban, you have to wonder just how serious the Dallas owner is being.
While I don’t doubt Cuban would at least consider using the pick on Griner, as he is quoted as saying, “It’s not like the likelihood of any late-50s draft pick has a good chance of making it,” Cuban may have unintentionally revealed his true intentions, musing over the fact that Griner’s presence on the summer league team would “sell out a few games.”
It is not surprising that the financial genius he is, Cuban would have thought of this marketing ploy to fill seats in otherwise meaningless summer games. After all, who wouldn’t want to see a woman dunk over a bunch of D-leaguers?
Cuban may be toeing a fine line though. There could of course be consequences to a move so drastic as this. If he treats it as some sort of farce, using her just to sell seats, you better bet people, women especially are not going to be happy.
Head coach of one of the most dominant teams in women’s college basketball history, Geno Auriemma weighed in on that note, saying:
“If Brittney Griner tries to make it to an NBA team, I think it would be a public relations thing and 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.” – Geno Auriemma, USAToday
It is true Griner excelled at Baylor, setting records men nor women may ever break, but she was 6-foot-8 and her average competitor was under six feet tall. In the NBA, the physicality will be greater and the competition will be taller and bigger.
But hey, can’t blame Cuban for giving it a shot.
“We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t consider everyone,” Cuban said in response to Auriemma’s comments. “As I told the media yesterday, she would have to excel in workouts to get drafted. I have no problem giving her that opportunity. I hope she gives it a shot.”
Griner’s accepted and Cuban has offered. Now let’s just see what comes of it.