Ian Thomsen of SI.com reports today that NBA Commissioner David Stern recently said there was a reasonable possibility that a woman could soon play in the NBA:
(Baylor’s Brittney Griner: 1st Woman Who Can Dunk Easily)
On Tuesday in the conference room outside his NBA office in Manhattan, I asked the commissioner whether we’ll see a woman playing in his league someday.
“Sure,” he said matter-of-factly. “I think that’s well within the range of probability.”
He (Stern) knows, I know and now you know there is a good chance it’s going to happen, simply because the most important man in basketball has hereby declared it could and should happen.
When Stern was asked if a woman could join the league in the next ten years, he said, “I think we might. I don’t want to get into all kinds of arguments with players and coaches about the likelihood. But I really think it’s a good possibility.”
Thomsen then proceeded to get reax about the prospect from varying NBA sources, including players, coaches and league executives.
Dirk Nowitzki: “Skills-wise, yeah. But physical-wise, it’s tough. Even all the little guys are pretty strong in this league and pretty athletic.”
Mavericks Assistant Coach Dwane Casey: “The physical part will be the worst for a woman, and it will be on defense more than anything else.”
New York Knicks president Donnie Walsh: “I’m sure there’ll be a girl who’ll be on this level, and if there is, she’ll probably play in the NBA.
Nets Coach Kiki Vandeweghe: “We have a lot of guys in our league who are specialty players — they come in and can just flat shoot it. Who’s to say that somebody from the WNBA couldn’t do the same thing?”
And finally, a league GM who was probably afraid to go on the record for fear of incurring Stern’s wrath: “I don’t think its going to be physically possible. I think they have the necessary skill sets: If you give me the best of the best in the WNBA and put them on the (free throw) line with the best of the NBA, I think you’ll see they shoot the ball as well as men.”
The most salient point about the possibility came from Stern, who noted that women’s records in the Olympics continue to improve, with some passing what men previously achieved.
So who is out there who could make the transition to The League right now? Nobody. Or they’d already be playing. I automatically thought of Baylor freshman Brittney Griner, who is the first woman ever to easily dunk in a game.
Give Griner a few more years to grow into her body and develop her skills and, with her extraordinary athleticism, she might be a realistic prospect. As Vandeweghe noted, there could also be room for a woman if she had excellent shooting range - a sharp-shooting specialist.
This is going to happen at some point. Realistically, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a moribund franchise start pushing Stern to allow it to carry a woman for marketing purposes. And remember that the WNBA is Stern’s pet project. He knows a female playing in the NBA would dramatically boost interest in his women’s league. At least short term.
As for the question of players being unwilling to put a body on a female during a game - if that player knows he might get beat, and embarrassed, he’s going to quickly transition to perhaps playing harder against a woman.
I’d love to see it. The NBA has gotten a little stale for me. If the female could play, it would certainly spice things up.