Friendships make women's basketball special
Recently, the basketball world has been debating whether Brittney Griner should have her shot in the NBA. First of all, I note the shift in dialogue from the collegiate level to the professional. The nets have been cut. Champions have been crowned. It has been a heck of a year.
For seniors such as Brittney, Skylar and Elena, their impact has been unparalleled. Women's basketball is on the rise. Any player playing in this rising generation, with technology that captures so much, has the opportunity to leave her legacy, however big or small. I am excited to see how they will spread that impact to the WNBA.
Secondly, the argument sounds like we are asking the question, "Where does she belong? WNBA versus NBA."
I was honored to be named a WBCA All-American for the second year in a row. During my time in New Orleans, I was fortunate to have breakfast with the legendary announcer Debbie Antonelli. We hit this topic and began discussing the fundamental differences between men's and women's sports. She said one of the biggest differences is that women are social beings.
Even though I would have traded anything to be playing in the Final Four, I had a blast experiencing the bells and whistles of the tournament with Brittney, Elena, Alyssa, Chelsea and Odyssey. I call these girls my best frenemies; we are best friends off the court and enemies when we face each other for 40 minutes.
So when people start making opinions about athletes and their capabilities, they should remember that we are all human beings. Brittney is the most fun, outgoing, silly, yet determined person I know. I remember watching that first local news broadcast from my home in Houston about “that 6-8 girl that can dunk.” Since then, she has evolved and changed the game.
Odyssey Sims is a master of disguise. Sometimes she is Sasha Fierce, and other times she is cool, calm and collected. She is my favorite rival in the state of Texas.
Alyssa Thomas is straight comedy. Although she can be very soft-spoken, she keeps me ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing).
The first time I met Elena Delle Donne was when we played together alongside my sister Nneka on the USA World University Games team. Not only is she the female Dirk, she has a huge heart.
Chelsea Gray is a fellow nerd! For someone who had a traumatic injury, her attitude is so positive. Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis were my first friends on the AAU circuit. They have supported me and I have supported them, even though we are thousands of miles apart.
Lastly, my girls Skylar Diggins and Kayla McBride are like sisters to me. They are super-competitive and spread that toughness to everyone they meet. I loved roaming the streets of New Orleans with these girls, trying different foods, meeting all kinds of fans. I love hearing the scoop and players' perspectives on crazy wins and tough losses. I love how we share the same struggles. I love that we have the same goals. I love being a woman playing the sport that has changed my life and the lives of so many others.
What I am trying to say is that women's basketball is special because we are able to be best frenemies. When your best friends are your competition, you push one another to new heights. You raise your standards. You work together to leave your mark.
Whatever Brittney chooses to do will be her decision, and we players will support it. But please realize that we are all working together to be the best players we can and continue growing the game we all love. If you are not a fan of women's basketball, this is the right time to make that move.
Peace and love!