Women Can't Compete in the NBA

Colin LinneweberSenior Writer IDecember 9, 2009

PHOENIX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Candace Parker #3 of the Los Angeles Sparks shoots a free throw shot against the Phoenix Mercury in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 WNBA Playoffs at US Airways Center on August 21, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Sparks defeated the Mercury 87-76.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

NBA Commissioner David Stern predicted last week that a woman will play in the league within the next decade.

“I don’t want to get into all kinds of arguments with players and coaches about the likelihood,” Stern told Sports Illustrated. “But I really think it’s a good possibility.”

Stern, 67, who became the NBA commissioner in 1984, said he realizes that many people are skeptical that women could compete physically with men.

However, Stern offered the reasoning behind his belief, citing examples of other female athletes who have flourished performing athletically against men.

“If you look at world records, let’s say track and field, you’ll see how the women have moved up to what would have been records several decades ago for men,” said Stern, a 1966 graduate of Columbia Law School.

“Watch the WNBA and you see the shooting percentages, the passing and the like. Basketball is a five-person game and you have zones and you can do a variety of other things.”

There is no question that many, many women throughout the world are tremendous athletes. However, it is utter lunacy to contend that a woman could excel as a player in the NBA.

WNBA players have superb abilities on the hardwood, and many of them could likely trump men’s hoops stars in a contest of sheer skill.

Nevertheless, pressed into live action, the weakest man in the NBA would easily outmuscle and outperform the strongest woman in the WNBA.

Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki correctly believes that a woman would falter playing in the NBA.

“Skills-wise, yeah, they could play,” said Nowitzki, 31, an eight-time All-Star selection who won the NBA Most Valuable Player award in 2007. “But, physical-wise, it’s tough. Even all the little guys are pretty strong in this league and pretty athletic.”

Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James basically scoffed at the notion of a woman playing in the NBA within the coming decade.

“Ten years? That’s like right around the corner. I’ll be 34 and I’ll still be in the NBA,” said James, 24, the 2009 NBA MVP. “I think ten years is a little pushing it. I love all sports. I love watching the girls, especially in the Olympics and in the WNBA. They’re great and there are a lot of great players. But ten years? I think that’s pushing it.”

James’ teammate in Cleveland is guard Anthony Parker.

Candace Parker is Anthony’s sister; she was a standout hoopster at the University of Tennessee before the Los Angeles Sparks selected her with the first overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft.

Anthony Parker seemed perplexed as to why the league commissioner would even suggest that a woman is capable of playing in the NBA.

“First of all, I don’t see why, other than to say that a woman can do it,” said Parker, 34, who was originally drafted by the New Jersey Nets with the 21st overall selection in the 1997 draft.

“But for long-term? No way. My sister is a good player and has great skill, but as far as making an NBA roster? No.”

Although vertically challenged, David Stern is the biggest and most powerful man in the NBA. A woman playing in the NBA became essentially inevitable the very instant that Stern declared that it would likely happen.

Stern is determined to continue expanding the NBA in every conceivable manner, and introducing the possibility of a woman ballplayer is basically his newest marketing ploy.

Unfortunately, it is just that—a ploy—and one that will ultimately be little more than a carnival act.

“If you give me the best of the best in the WNBA and put them on the free throw line with the best of the NBA, I think you’ll see they shoot the ball as well as men,” said a league GM who requested anonymity.

“But think about the overall speed, athleticism and strength in the NBA. They can’t take the pounding, the wear and tear, the quickness, the strength. It’s not possible.”

A woman will not succeed competing in the NBA.

Nevertheless, thanks to David Stern, fans will be forced to discover this through experience.

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