"There's no doubt that in our lifetime, there will be a woman NBA player," Battier said, according to Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.
Battier then elaborated on his thinking, being careful not to single Griner out as the most likely candidate:
I don't know if it's Griner or if it's someone who is 5 years old right now. But we'll see it. It'll happen in our lifetime. Just the law of averages...I don't think it would be out of the realm of possibility that [one day] we'll see a female LeBron. You could be the most skilled player in the world that the women's game has ever seen, but that won't cut it in the NBA. She'd have to be a physical specimen.
If we ignore Battier's gross misunderstanding of the concepts underlying the law of averages, his statement really isn't that controversial.
By his own parameters, the notion that a female version of LeBron James—the most dominant athlete the sport has ever seen—could cut it in the NBA is hardly a bold one. If there did exist a female basketball player who was more physically gifted than any who had ever come before her, it'd be reasonable to say that she might have an outside chance to play in the NBA.
The problem, though, is that Battier tethered a purely hypothetical situation to the declarative statement that we will see a female NBA player before we kick the bucket. For that reason, his prediction holds little weight.
Some, like renowned NBA gambler Haralabos Voulgaris, were eager to take Battier up on his proposition:
Bet Please."Shane Battier says we will see a female NBA player 'in our lifetime." female has to play in >15 games for > 15 mins— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) April 4, 2013
Others were a bit more vindictive in their responses:
Duke should cut its tuition by half after this. espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id…— Farmer Jones (@thefarmerjones) April 4, 2013
Battier's an intelligent, well-spoken guy. But in addition to creating a hypothetical "super woman" to make his point, he also made the mistake of conceding that skill might not ultimately be the reason a woman could someday land on an NBA team.
"Listen, this whole thing is a sideshow," Battier said. "What's one more trailer?"
Backing up a bit, Cuban told ESPN's Tim McMahon that he'd take a flier on Griner with the Mavs' second-round pick in the upcoming NBA draft. But he immediately qualified his assertion by pointing out that picks taken that late rarely pan out.
He also acknowledged that financial motivations—like tickets sales—would certainly factor into his decision.
Cuban acknowledged that Griner playing in the NBA's Las Vegas summer league would have tremendous marketing potential.
'It would, wouldn't it? See how she could do?' Cuban said. 'That'd sell out a few games.'
There's a massive difference between a female basketball player making an NBA team on her merits as an athlete and the same thing happening for the sake of publicity.
Either way, Griner is apparently interested in Cuban's proposition—however serious it actually is:
@mcuban so when do I show up for try-outs!!!— Brittney Griner (@Brittney4Griner) April 3, 2013
Battier provides an outlandish, postulated scenario to bolster his point while simultaneously winking at the potential monetary motivations behind a female player making an NBA team.
So, if we look closely at his words, he's really not saying much of anything at all.