Like it or not, Brittney Griner is a force in basketball. She is an incredible athlete, with historical stats and facts floating around her, making her one of the best players in women’s basketball history. She wears size 17 sneakers and has an 88-ince wingspan. She is the rookie "stud" with athletic magic.
But controversy also encompasses her; as stated in the ESPN Magazine "The Taboo Issue," author Kate Fagan writes:
Brittney Griner wears bow ties, dates women and dunks with abandon. Call her names if you like – she’s done hiding from haters.
As the first openly gay athlete signed by Nike, Griner is paving the way by forcing people to talk – talk about her and talk about the league. I asked a few of the Silver Stars players about Griner and whether she would change the women’s game, and here is what some said:
Jayne Appel: I think it’s good for publicity, making people more aware of the WNBA. She is only going to excel and make the women’s game that much better. She will also force us to improve our level, making us better and force new challenges in the game.
Becky Hammon: The WNBA league has evolved in the past few years. It’s bigger, stronger, more athletic, more skilled, and not taking anything away from the trailblazers of our league, but players now have truly evolved. We are still very fundamental, but the league now has players that are rising above and doing more. I feel like they are getting faster and I’m getting slower. But Brittney is breaking the seal off of so many assumptions that women can’t dunk and this and that, but she is an incredible specimen of not only athleticism but in height. But I think it’s an exciting place to be this year.
Coach Hughes: There is a curiosity among a certain segment of population to have women compared to men. And I don’t get it, but there seems to be a fascination with her and the comparisons. To me, I don’t compare things to readily, but us as a society, we need to compare.
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Our society is very mixed when it comes to Griner, as she doesn’t fit in the "perfect little box" of the female athlete, yet she is redefining the women’s game. No matter your views, there should be appreciation for her athleticism and acceptance of the skills she brings to the game.
Averaging 15 points per game and towering over every player at 6-8, Griner will be a force to reckon with on Tuesday evening. The Stars lost their last meeting with the Phoenix Mercury by 4 points, and Tuesday’s game is one of five match-ups for this season. Also on the Mercury roster is Diana Taurasi, who had her season high scoring game of 25 points versus the Stars last year.
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Tickets for Tuesday’s games are close to being sold out, probably because everyone wants to see the dreadlocked player flash her magic. The Silver Stars are ready to fight back, coming off a close win against the New York Liberty, where the Stars were aggressive defensively and on target offensively.