SBD/Issue 59/Leagues & Governing Bodies

David Stern: Woman In NBA Within 10 Years Is "Good Possibility"

Stern Says Women Playing In NBA Is
"Well Within The Range Of Probability"
NBA Commissioner David Stern said a woman playing in the league is "well within the range of probability," and contends there is a "good possibility" it will be within the next decade, according to Ian Thomsen of SI.com. Stern: "I think we might. I don't want to get into all kinds of arguments with players and coaches about the likelihood." He added, "In basketball, where it's a five-person game and you have zones and you can do a variety of other things -- a fast person with a good shot that can play on the team? I think we could see it in the next decade or so. ... I'll leave it to the real experts to talk about the muscle factor. But there's going to be a very strong woman who has all the moves, who's going to want to play, and she's going to be good." Thomsen noted the "ultimate goal of developing a woman player is an unexpected but natural progression for Stern, who has used social initiatives" to help grow the league internationally. The success of a female player "would introduce the NBA to enormous audiences who wouldn't otherwise have been interested," and some team owners "will be interested in hiring the first woman player, even if it's only to sell tickets." Nets President Rod Thorn said, "That would work if you had the right woman, and particularly if she were a player who played. Initially it would be, 'Wow, I've got to see this, I never thought this would happen so I've got to see it.'" Celtics coach Doc Rivers: "The key is whether the person is playing, or is she just on the team? The story will die down if she's just on the team and not playing a lot. But if she is playing and helping the team improve and win, then it really is a huge story." Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban believes other players would respect a woman "if she could play." But he added, "If it was a marketing ploy, they would resent her taking a job" (SI.com, 12/4).

AGREE TO DISAGREE: In DC, Tom Knott notes Stern's comments parallel his "forward-thinking approach to the game." However, while the commissioner's "political antenna always has been acute," this "potential offering is beyond the reality of the women's game." Women's basketball "lags considerably behind the men's game," and fans "do not have to watch more than a few minutes of a WNBA game to gauge the pronounced differences in size, speed, quickness and jumping ability." Knott: "If a woman is to play in the NBA within the next 10 years, it would have to be an extraordinary woman. It would have to be a woman we have not yet seen" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 12/7). The LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: "There is being politically correct, and then there is, well, being just plain silly. NBA commissioner David Stern should know the difference" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 12/5).

BEING TOO OPTIMISTIC: Cavaliers F LeBron James said in response to Stern's comments, "Ten years? That's, like, right around the corner. (In) 10 years, I'll be 34. I'll still be in the NBA. I think 10 years is pushing it, honestly." Cavaliers G Anthony Parker, the brother of WNBA Sparks F Candace Parker, said, "No way. My sister is a good player and has great skill, but as far as making an NBA roster? No" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 12/5).

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