Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Thursday, March 05, 2009

From the AP
Brittney Griner can dunk.

Not one of those just-above-the-rim throw-downs that have long been accepted as the best a woman can do in games of the past. When the 6-foot-8 high school senior dunks, it can be a rim-rattling, backboard shaking, two-handed slam.

Simply put, she dunks like a guy.
I've got to say that every time this phrase is attached to a women's basketball player -- "Griner has become more than simply a top recruit, but someone who might be able to transform the women's game" -- I cringe.

That was the label attached to Taurasi, to Parker and to a number of players before them... Which makes me ask, "transform" how? Make it more like the men's game? Do we want that? Do we think that's neccessary? Is it even possible?

It's not that I'm an anti-dunk-purist (tho I am, sorta). It's just that, unless suddenly men and women start producing babies that grow up to be 6-foot-8-ers, the women's game is going to stay primarily below the rim.

So switch out "transform" for "evolve" and maybe I'm with ya. Think of how Martina Navratilova changed the women's game (thanks to Nancy Lieberman's "You think you're in shape, but you're not in shape!") It was not because everyone could play like Martina, but everyone COULD get in shape like Martina.

The game of women's basketball has gotten faster and more skilled not because of one player -- but because that one player showed a possiblity that OTHER players coming up through the ranks could attain. And the training/education around those up and coming players supported that.

We're talking four-year olds bouncing basketballs. We're talking 9-year olds on travel teams. We're talking basketball camps and better educated coaches with the high school, AAU and college ranks. We're talking scholarships. We're talking Mechelle interviewing you and ESPN mis-pronouncing your name. We're talking the WNBA and Europe. We're talking (somewhat) socially acceptable activity.

Evolution is a slow, steady process. And there's still plenty more work to do.