Stewart's Role As Ambassador Raises Questions In WNBA Community
The WNBA's decision to make Seattle Storm F Breanna Stewart a league "ambassador" for this season after her injury while playing overseas has left WNBA players, GMs, coaches and agents with "many questions about it -- including how and when the agreement came about, what it entails, and what it means for the future," according to Mechelle Voepel of ESPN.com. Too few details "have been shared by the WNBA, in part because the exact nature of Stewart's work for the league still hasn't been determined." Voepel: "Is this really the start of a program that the WNBA will use to compensate players, specifically when they are hurt?" NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Mark Tatum: "The conversations that we've been having with the players' association is that in the future, there will be many more of these." But the WNBA "didn't say any of this last week when the news was reported." The league also said that it "made agreements in the past with some players like Tamika Catchings and Swin Cash to do promotional work in and out of season for a lump sum." But this is "believed to be the first time an injured player will get a contract to work for the league during the season and receive a salary that's in excess of her projected base salary had she played" (ESPN.com, 5/29).
FOLLOW THE MAMBA: In L.A., Arash Markazi noted Kobe Bryant's support of women’s basketball is "invaluable for a league still dealing with negativity from some men." L.A. Sparks F Chiney Ogwumike said, “People need to follow Kobe’s lead, and I’m not just talking about NBA players. I’m so glad the players come and support us, but just men in general. ... But you will have a daughter, and I bet you would want your daughter to play in the WNBA if she’s good at basketball. So follow his lead" (L.A. TIMES, 5/28).
IN-DEPTH: In Minneapolis, Kent Youngblood noted "much has been made recently of the need for the WNBA to expand, citing the quality of players who have been unable to make rosters." But the "big pipeline created by having more women playing the sport continues to elevate the league’s level of play." Minnesota Lynx C Sylvia Fowles said that the depth of talent in the league is the "most impressive she’s seen in her decade-plus career" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/29).