NBA

Why Baylor's Brittney Griner Deserves a Shot in the NBA

Mar 31, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Louisville Cardinals guard Jude Schimmel (22) shoots as Baylor Lady Bears center Brittney Griner (42) defends during the second half of the semifinals of the Oklahoma City regional of the 2013 NCAA womens basketball tournament at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Cardinals beat the Lady Bears 82-81. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2013

She won't be physical enough on the block, she's not athletic enough to play the 4 and she'll get manhandled if she tries to play center. Sure, she can dunk—so could Spud Webb. A woman could never compete in the NBA!

More or less, that's the response I'm hearing from most men when they learn that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stated he would consider drafting Baylor's Brittney Griner.

Her detractors may be correct, but don't you want to see her get a shot?

Here are Cuban's comments, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

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.

Cuban said he was quite serious about extending a tryout invitation to Griner over the summer, and that from a marketing standpoint, she would be a huge hit in the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League. 

"She'd still have to make the team," Cuban said. "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."

Give Griner credit, as she's ready to give it a shot. She tweeted:

Even if Griner didn't stick in the NBA—and honestly, the odds don't stack in her favor—if she was invited to the summer league and held her own, it could be basketball's Billie Jean King moment. If there's ever been a player with the size, skill and athleticism to pull it off, it's Griner.

She averaged 23.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.1 blocks for Baylor this season. And have you seen her Sports Science video?

Impressive stuff. And that was from two years ago.

Would Griner need to bulk up? Absolutely. Would she have to add some range and learn to play the 4? Definitely. Would she have a steep learning curve, going from being the most physically dominant player in the college game to an undersized post in the NBA? Without question.

It's a long shot that Griner could even compete in the summer league, but it's not impossible. It's not crazy to think she could adapt and pull it off. 

Based on her game at this point and the fact that 99.9 percent of all humans—man or woman—are incapable of playing in the NBA, I don't think Griner will ever play for the Mavericks.

But I think she deserves a shot, I really do.

And not because it would be a great public relations stunt for Cuban or because every few years or so, men's sports should be required to give the ladies a try. Griner deserves a shot at the NBA because she's a dominant player and highly skilled—I think we are all curious to see if she could hang with the men. 

Even if Griner doesn't stack up, maybe she'll inspire a young girl who someday could compete with NBA players. Maybe she'll be a young female athlete's hero. Maybe she'll start to chip away at the notion that men will always be athletically superior to females.

And maybe, just maybe, she'll succeed. Sports is at its best when it helps society break down its many barriers. 

Let's give Griner a shot to break down one more.

 

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