2012 NBA Draft: Why Baylor's Brittney Griner Must Declare

Alex KayCorrespondent IApril 4, 2012

DENVER, CO - APRIL 01:  Brittney Griner #42 of the Baylor Bears reacts in the first half against the Stanford Cardinal during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship at Pepsi Center on April 1, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Everyone knows Brittney Griner is the best player in women’s college basketball. There is no argument that she will become the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft when she becomes eligible.  

But what if the Baylor Bears superstar decided to instead declare for the NBA draft?

That sounds absolutely insane, but it’s not as far-fetched as you may think. All you have to do is open the history books to find out why.

Meyers holding her Pacers jersey. Photo Credit: IndyStar.com
Meyers holding her Pacers jersey. Photo Credit: IndyStar.com

Back in 1979, the Indiana Pacers inked Ann Meyers to a $50,000 dollar no-cut contract to try out for the team. By doing so, she became the first and only women to ever sign a deal—as a player—with an NBA franchise.

Although she never suited up for a regulation game and was cut after the three-day tryout, she broke down many barriers and made a lot of noise in that short period of time.

At the time, many thought it was a publicity stunt by the UCLA star and the struggling NBA franchise, but Meyers truly believed she had what it took to make the league.

In an interview with NBC’s "The Today Show" way back in September of 1979, Meyers (now Meyers Drysdale) explained her thought process going in.

If I didn’t think positive like that then why even bother because it would have been a joke. And you know there is a lot of things in life that they say can’t be done, and if people believe enough in themselves and other people the impossible can happen.

Griner should take a lesson from a woman whose ambition was only hamstrung by her stature (Meyers was listed 5’9”, 135-pounds at the time of her tryout) and attempt a monumental achievement in women’s athletics—being selected during the NBA draft.

In the 33 years since Ann Meyers made her attempt, the sport of women’s basketball has advanced significantly, and some of the greats have the size to compete with anyone, including men.

At 6’8”, 208-pounds, there is no doubting that Griner has the build to compete in the modern NBA. Her athleticism is incredible (she can dunk!), and her absolute dominance during the 2011-12 season for the perfect 40-0 national champions proves she is ready for a bigger challenge.

Commissioner David Stern would readily welcome her attempt and even stated that he believes women will compete in his league in the near future.

During an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen in December of 2009, the commish was bluntly asked if he believes a woman will be playing NBA basketball within a decade.

His response: "I think we might. I don't want to get into all kinds of arguments with players and coaches about the likelihood. But I really think it's a good possibility."

Stern went on to describe the hypothetical groundbreaker. “[She is] going to be a very strong woman who has all the moves, who's going to want to play, and she's going to be good."

It now sounds like he is describing Griner, who was still starring at Nimitz High School at the time the interview was conducted.

While it’s a long-shot, Brittney Griner could elect to turn pro and put forth an honest attempt to make the NBA.

At the very least, it’s worth a shot for the young lady to prove herself against the best competition in the world. Who knows? She may even catch on with a franchise.

As Kevin Garnett once shouted for the world to hear, anything is possible.