Ever since Baylor’s Brittney Griner began dominating women’s college basketball, there’s been talk about the possibility of a team giving her a shot to play in the NBA. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban make it known that he’s keeping an eye on her.
When Cuban was asked about Griner’s NBA Draft stock before the Mavericks game against the Lakers Tuesday night, he said, “If she is the best on the board, I will take her.” If Dallas doesn’t use a second-round pick on her, Cuban said he would have “no problem whatsoever” inviting Griner to try out for a spot on Dallas’ summer league team.
If given the opportunity to play against NBA talent, how do you think the 6’8 Griner would stack up?
Griner would not be the first woman to play professionally in an all-male league.
In 1980, UCLA star Ann Meyers signed a $50,000 no-cut contract with the Indiana Pacers, but she did not make the final roster.
Also, in 1986, Nancy Lieberman played in the USBL for the Springfield Fame. She did not score, but she did register a few minutes of playing time.
Neither Meyers nor Liebermann were taller than 6’0, so Griner’s case to play in the NBA is much different. It’s hard to know how good she really is, since the competition she faces isn’t up to par with most men’s college basketball teams. Many scouts compare it to Griner playing against NAIA teams.
I want to go back to something Mark Cuban said to Sports Illustrated back in 2009. He spoke to SI’s Ian Thomsen about the possibility of a woman playing in the NBA any day soon. He said the NBA has to get it right the first time. Cuban said, “If she was truly a full-time player rather than a modern day Eddie Gaedel…it would be enormous.” Gaedel was a dwarf who played in one major league baseball game in a 1951 publicity stunt.”
Cuban believe if she could play, other players would respect her. He adds, “If it was a marketing ploy, they would resent her taking a job.”
Let’s fast forward to last night when he made his comments. Lost in the more quotable lines made by Cuban, he said something that contradicts his statement in 2009.
Cuban acknowledged if Griner did play in the NBA’s Las Vegas summer league, it would have tremendous marking potential. He added, “It would, wouldn’t it? See how she could do?…that’d sell out a few games.”
It sounds like Cuban’s motive for possibly drafting Griner is more “Eddie Gaedel” than a move to improve the Mavericks.