Other than the clear, obvious difference between NBA and WNBA players, there is the additional difference that the latter must constantly defend themselves and what they do from their detractors.
The Internet, and especially social media, has long been a breeding ground for all kinds of ugly. Some practitioners are brazen enough to identify themselves as such as they troll, while others cowardly hide behind their keyboards.
There are WNBA players, however, who recently proved they are more than willing to speak their minds against the trolls on social media, despite the fact that instead of discouraging such activity, their comments may encourage even more trolling.
When Las Vegas rookie A’ja Wilson used Twitter to complain about salary disparities in pro basketball, she was attacked by such bigoted Archie Bunker-type tweets as “Get back in the kitchen,” “Why do you think you deserve it?” and “You’re not worth it.”
“It was crazy,” the 6’-4” Wilson told reporters, including the MSR, after her game against Minnesota last Friday. “I am not the first athlete in the WNBA to bring this up.”
Her teammate Kayla McBride clapped back on Twitter, “I don’t wanna hear anything or anyone who doesn’t walk in my shoes every day talking about salary in the WNBA. We deserve more. Period. Stay in your lane homie because you not out here hoopin every night. Like I am.
“I hoop for a living,” the fifth-year veteran guard told us.
Sadly, it’s the same old apples-to-oranges comparative argument when it comes to women’s sports in general, and basketball in particular. Simply put, when it comes to the NBA vs. the WNBA, there’s no comparison: The former makes gobs more money and the latter plays virtually all year round for considerably less.
The NBA is marketed to the hilt while the W’s rank-and-file must exert off-court energy to promote and defend its brand to a judgmental bunch of trolls and others, who after 22 seasons, still can’t fathom that the league is indeed a major league sport.
“I think that perception [is] based on misinformation,” McBride said. “I think a lot of people who have this perception of women’s basketball or the WNBA compare it to the NBA most of the time. They compare it to the men’s story, their ways and salaries and stuff.”
“I never expected such hate and negativity…but it just fueled my fire and my teammates’ fire,” Wilson continued. “We have something to prove…and say, ‘Hey, we are as good at things just like the men.”
She and McBride both stressed that they also use social media to educate and inform. “Sometimes you can’t reach people or change people,” Wilson pointed out.
“I always want to fight for what’s right, and I will use my voice in any way that I can. It helps uplift this league. It’s my job and my profession, and I will do whatever I can,” Wilson said.
“For me,” McBride added, “it’s about informing about how many amazing women there are in this league, and women athletics, period. People who are DMing me [direct messaging] aren’t athletes.”
However, social media trolls are like BeBe Kids – they don’t die, they multiply. “You have the trolls who hide behind computers and don’t have pictures, and [you] can’t really name them,” Wilson said. “These are the people who really don’t matter.
“I grew up watching these girls, these women in this league. I just want what’s best for them, let alone the ones coming after me.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.