I know what you’re thinking, because I am thinking it too. I am hearing Mark Cuban say he would consider drafting Brittney Griner and my instinct is to tell you exactly what I think of that.
“If she is the best on the board, I will take her,” Cuban told The Dallas Morning News Tuesday. “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.”
Griner is more than up for the challenge.
“I would hold my own! Lets do it,” she tweeted Tuesday evening.
I want to tell you there is no way Griner, maybe the best women’s basketball player of all time, can play in the NBA. I want to say she’s a 6-foot-8 center who makes Tayshaun Prince look muscular. I want to remind you that Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is an entrepreneur with a gift for self-promotion. I want to tell you about Ann Meyers, who tried out for the Indiana Pacers in 1980 and didn’t make the team. I want to bring up Lusia Harris and Denise Long. Long’s 1969 selection in the draft was voided by the NBA. Harris was picked 137th in 1977, but it turned out she was pregnant at the time.
I want to write that column, because it is what I believe, but I’m not going to write that column because I think there is a more important idea in this, one that’s difficult for me to embrace a lot of the time.
And that idea is this: Don’t put limits on people.
That should be an easy concept to embrace. The human experience is basically a constant process of watching people do things they aren’t supposed to be able to do. An African-American man with a Muslim-sounding last name is the President of the United States. In 2004, a Chinese guy named William Hung with no singing talent whatsoever sold almost 250,000 records thanks to American Idol. Man has walked on the moon. I suppose we all have our favorite examples, but the point is there are plenty from which to choose.
But it is not easy to think this way. It is much easier to accept that the way things have always been is the way they will always be. And I’m trying to NOT be that way.
Look, my brain is incapable of conceiving a way Griner could win a job in the NBA. I cannot imagine what she could possibly add to a roster that couldn’t be added and surpassed by practically any professional male basketball player of comparable size. I suppose some people would call this sexism, but I don’t see how pretending I see something I don’t does anybody any good. There are a lot of 6-8 guys who can jump a lot higher, box out a lot stronger and shoot with a lot more accuracy than Griner can. Or at least that’s what I think.
But who cares what I think? Should Griner care? No! Should the Mavericks? No!
This is Mark Cuban’s business, and if he thinks drafting a woman will be good for business, who am I to tell him he shouldn’t do that? Am I supposed to be bothered because Griner would be taking a job from some late second-round draft pick who probably isn’t good enough to play in the NBA either?
Well, I can’t. I can’t get there. I can’t care about that guy. He can go make a nice living in Europe.
I’m like a lot of you. If this happens (and I don’t think it will) I’ll look at it as a gimmick and I’ll make my jokes on Twitter and write a pithy little column whenever Griner gets cut. We’ll all have our fun.
And what would be wrong with that, with everybody having their fun? Maybe Griner isn’t the one. Maybe she can’t do this, but maybe someday somebody else will be able to.
Or maybe that she tried, and that the Mavericks gave her the opportunity, will inspire other people to try other impossible things, and inspire even more people to be more open-minded with the opportunities they offer.
Yeah, I know. I think it’s a long shot, too. Probably too long. Probably a lot too long.