A woman trying out for the NBA isn’t a brand new concept. Ann Meyers, once a huge star at UCLA and while playing for the country in the Olympics, was the first and only woman to sign a contract with an NBA team in 1980 (the Indiana Pacers). Unfortunately, after partaking in three days worth of tryouts and workouts, Meyers wasn’t picked as a member of the official squad.
But in 2013, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is eyeing Baylor phenom Brittney Griner, six-feet and eight inches of intimidating dunking and shooting power, for a spot on the Mavs. She is expected to be drafted first in the WNBA draft, but Cuban said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News that he wouldn’t mind giving Griner the chance to see if she could cut it in the NBA if she is willing, by having her try out in the summer:
“You never know until you give someone a chance. And it’s not like the likelihood of any late-50s draft pick has a good chance of making it. If we had tryouts, I would have no problem inviting her to work out and see how she did. No problem whatsoever.”
With Mark Cuban’s reputation, it seems that many people see Cuban’s interest in Griner’s talents as a ploy for attention, and if she were to try out and actually find a spot on the team, think of all the tickets that would be sold, press it would get, money it would make. However, University of Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, coach of the women’s team, says that it would be a sham to make money off of Griner, and in the end her talents would be wasted:
“Obviously Mark Cuban is a genius because he’s been able to parlay some great ideas into billion dollar industries and he’s done a great job as owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He’s won an NBA championship and he’s done an awful lot for basketball. His genius would take a huge hit if he drafted Brittney Griner. And 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.”
But in an e-mail to USA Today’s Kelly Whiteside, Cuban says it’s not about PR, but about having an open mind and considering all players who have what it takes.
“We evaluate every draft eligible player on the planet,” Cuban said. “The chance of any college graduate selected at the end of the draft making a roster is very, very small. We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t consider everyone.
“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.
“Nothing harms an organization or company more than a closed mind.”
As for the person all of this is about, Griner so far seems to be excited by the offer and seems to be considering taking it. She even responded to Cuban on Twitter saying, “I would hold my own! Lets do it.”
In this day and age, anybody can do just about anything, but against men in the league who have the bodies of Dwight Howard and the power of Lebron James, she might have a big fight to put up compared to playing against women she came up against playing in the NCAA. But who’s to say that she wouldn’t have an impact? Hell, she’s already taller than most men I know and in the league. But we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
So could you see a woman playing in the NBA?