Thursday, August 30, 2001
WNBA player exposed in Playboy pictorial
By Darren Rovell ESPN.com
Ten days after Phoenix Mercury star Lisa Harrison turned down an opportunity to shed her clothes for the camera and on the eve of the WNBA Finals, little did Playboy know it already had a women's professional basketball player on a page of its most recent magazine.
Stocks proved she could keep a secret as well as the ball from others.
Tamara Stocks, a rookie forward with the Washington Mystics, is featured in the "Girls of the SEC" section in Playboy's October issue, scheduled to appear on newsstands Sept. 3. It is the same issue that includes a centerfold spread of Cal State Fullerton track-star-turned-stripper Leilani Rios.
The WNBA was unaware one of its players would be featured in the popular men's entertainment magazine. Likewise, a Playboy official said editors of the magazine did not know they had a WNBA player on Page 147.
Stocks, who played basketball at the University of Florida, said she posed for the magazine on March 30, 21 days before she was drafted in the second round by the Mystics.
"They were on campus and they asked if I would be in the 'Females of the SEC' issue," Stocks said Thursday, hours before she was to leave for Germany where she will play for TSV Wasserburg. "I agreed to do it, but I wanted it to be tastefully done. I didn't want people to see everything I've got."
Stocks played only 11 minutes and scored three points in three games for the Mystics this season. She finished the regular season on injured reserve with a lower back strain. At Florida, Stocks averaged 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds a game during her four-year career.
In the magazine, Stocks is shown, her posterior exposed, with a bowl of Raisin Bran at a kitchen counter. "Six-foot-two Tamara Stocks, a public relations major at the University of Florida, fuels her lanky frame for competition on the basketball court," reads the caption.
In the biographical profile she filled out for Playboy, Stocks spelled out her "likes/dislikes," "ambition" and "hobbies." But under "occupation," her answer was "none."
"We're a bunch of idiots" for not making the connection, said Gary Cole, the magazine's photography director, who said Stocks was paid $500 for the shoot. Cole said Stock's status as a WNBA player will help sell more magazines and Playboy will now post outtakes of Stocks from the shoot on its Web site.
The magazine is now interested in pursuing Stocks for a featured shoot in the future, Cole said.
Stocks' posing does not constitute an NCAA violation since she accepted money after the season was over, said Kathy Kafazzo, an assistant sports information director at Florida. The Gators lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 18. Kafasso said University of Florida coach Carol Ross was unaware that Stocks had posed for the magazine.
In July, Harrison was voted the "Sexiest Babe of the WNBA" in a poll on Playboy.com. But plans to feature her in an upcoming issue fell through when Harrison asked for a Mercedes and more than $500,000 for the shoot, Cole said.
On Thursday, two days after ESPN Radio's Todd Wright reported the finding, WNBA officials learned for the first time that Stocks had posed for the magazine.
"She posed before she was WNBA player, so this isn't on our radar screen," said Maureen Coyle, a WNBA spokesperson. "Tonight is Game 1 of the WNBA championship; we'd like to be talking about that right now."
Dyani Gordon, a Mystics spokesperson, said she did not believe the team would have a problem with the discovery.
"How people choose to express themselves and the medium they choose to express it in, is a personal choice, if it's off the court," Gordon said. "What Tamara does as a player is our business."
Even Stocks' agent, Michael Garnes, didn't know. "I picked up Tamara as a client in June and she never discussed this with me," he said.
"I don't really see this hurting the Mystics or the WNBA," Stocks said. "It was done before I had any affiliation with the league. But if they have any issues with it, I'm more than willing to discuss it with them."
"It wasn't money," Stocks said. "It was about my personality. It was a spur of the moment thing and I just said, 'Oh, that might be fun.' "
Darren Rovell covers sports business for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.