Draymond Green Tweets on Pay Gap Between Men's, Women's Basketball Players

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2021

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) against the Philadelphia 76ers during an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

After watching Saturday's Sweet 16 showdown between Paige Bueckers' UConn Huskies and Caitlin Clark's Iowa Hawkeyes in the 2021 NCAA women's tournament, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green talked about the pay disparities between the men's and women's game in a string of tweets.

"I've been seeing a lot of talk about the pay gap between women and men. Especially in sports. It's not even close," Green wrote. "But let's stop allowing y'all complaints to fall on deaf ears due to numbers. As long as y'all make the argument about pay, while the revenue stays the same they will continue to point at the revenue not being high enough to cover bigger salaries. While that is true in damn near every business, how do we take that card out of their pockets? That's the key to changing the pay.

"There's no argument for lack of revenue unless you make those that say they stand for women actually stand up. The NBA wasn't always the global game that it is today. It wasn't always driving as much revenue as it does today. But there were people behind it, building the platform, and more importantly telling INDIVIDUAL stories and building up the interest in the players. That's how the game took off. Who's building up y'all platform? Who's telling the individual stories of how great y'all are? Building the interest and transforming women's basketball into a global game?"

He also called for more stories to be told about women's basketball so fans can have a better connection with the game and players:

Draymond Green @Money23Green

Some may think it’s global because all the women go to overseas and play during the year, but the global response isn’t big enough. Having to go overseas should never be the case but because the stories aren’t told, especially here in the states, y’all hands are forced.

Draymond Green @Money23Green

I’ve been asked to do so many PSAs this month on women empowerment. I said no. It’s hypocritical. Because these same companies that are telling women empowerment are not putting their money where their mouth is. Call on this companies to support y’all. To infuse capitol into...

Draymond Green @Money23Green

The business. Stop allowing them to yell women empowerment for the look. No company grows without funding. Y’all business can grow with the proper funding and story telling. Make these huge companies commit money to y’all cause. That’s empowering! Or don’t yell women empowerment

Draymond Green @Money23Green

They can easily tell y’all stories. But they don’t have to because the request that are being made are falling on deaf ears because y’all keep saying pay me more, with no way to drive the revenue. Force hands! Paige number#1 pick 2021!

Draymond Green @Money23Green

Nobody follows because you have no personal connection. You know LBJ comes from Akron, a single mom etc. where is DT from? What’s her story? You don’t know. Because it’s not told. That’s what builds viewership. Personal attachments. That’s why Nike wins https://t.co/CnnGRVzwz5

Green also wrote there needs to be more of a payoff for elite women's college basketball to leave school early and play at the highest levels of the sport.

"Break the mold and change the game!" he wrote. "Most importantly, change the BUSINESS. Call on [companies that say they support women's empowerment for financial] support, after all they are using y'all to push WOMEN EMPOWERMENT, but not helping y'all. They're simply saving face."

According to Jonathan Vanian of Fortune, the average salary for a WNBA player for the 2019-20 season was $75,000. Basketball Reference (h/t Vanian) put the average salary for an NBA player in that season around $7.7 million.

Megan Rapinoe, who is one of the most prominent athletes in all of sports as a two-time World Cup champion and has fought for change throughout her career, responded to Green (warning: NSFW language):

Megan Rapinoe @mPinoe

No one tells this story because they 👏🏼 don’t 👏🏼 fucking 👏🏼 want to. They don’t want to because it would shift the scales of power.

While there was some appreciation for the Warriors star's efforts to shine a light on existing inequalities, others called out the tweets as an instance of "mansplaining" and placing the blame for sexism on those who experience it while invisibilizing the storytelling work that many—and especially women—do in this realm.

Outlets such as HighlightHER (a B/R portfolio) and the recently launched Togethxr have made women in sports more visible to audiences. ESPN's Maria Taylor shared a recent example of a prominent story "telling the individual stories of how great y'all are," as Green put it in his tweets:

Maria Taylor @MariaTaylor

Here’s a good story we just told before the @BaylorWBB game. https://t.co/ezD1aXk2kA https://t.co/0PTop1y3r8

Some WNBA players saw the comments as problematic:

Layshia Clarendon @Layshiac

Shout out to NBA guys who come to tell people in women’s sports what we need to do to grow the game. Thanks, now we’ll ask for more resources, tell the powers at be to tell our stories more, and generally just start to push things “like the NBA.” Problems solved.

Lexie Brown @lexiekiah_4

Is someone gonna tell Draymond how loud and wrong he is?

Green's comments come after the NCAA faced extensive criticism for differences in amenities for men's players in the Big Dance in Indianapolis and women's players in the Big Dance in San Antonio.

Players took to social media to raise their concerns:

Sedona Prince @sedonaprince_

Let me put it on Twitter too cause this needs the attention https://t.co/t0DWKL2YHR

Sabrina Ionescu @sabrina_i20

Women’s @NCAA bubble weight room vs Men’s weight room... thought this was a joke. WTF is this?!? To all the women playing in the @marchmadness tournament, keep grinding! https://t.co/K04KTv6s46

Kelsey Plum @Kelseyplum10

We want some answers @NCAA who thought this was acceptable???? https://t.co/mOBXQb6OBT

ESPN's Heather Dinich reported NCAA president Mark Emmert acknowledged "a number of balls were dropped" in the way the organization handled the women's and men's tournaments. NCAA vice president for basketball Dan Gavitt also apologized.