I want to see Brittney Griner in a Phoenix Mercury uniform this summer. It’s not for selfish reasons either.

It means the talk that has dominated many basketball circles this week has been just that, talk. It means Griner gets to become what she’s destined to be, one of the best women’s basketball players in the history of the game in one of the premier women’s leagues in the world. It means we can appreciate her for her skill set and not as some sideshow.

Griner doesn’t need the NBA, even if a certain NBA maverick really does want to give her a shot. She doesn’t need the NBA just because it doesn’t have a W in front of it. If you’ve listened to the national debate being waged online and on cable sports networks, you would almost think that this is a challenge the Baylor standout has to accept and conquer to prove herself.

When you break it all down to a sound bite, or the simple “Could a woman hold her own?” questions, it devolves into something that is at least juvenile and at most borderline sexist. The offer itself marginalizes what she truly is.

This is the kind of thing that happens on school playgrounds around the country. Boys challenging girls to prove they’re better. But why must we compare? Why must we as a society look at Griner and immediately draw parallels between her to the opposite sex? Shouldn’t we just be celebrating her for how she revolutionized the women’s college game and for what she might accomplish in the pros?

She’s been referred to as the female version of Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal or even Bill Russell. Those comparisons are made because we haven’t seen a women’s player who has the ability and athleticism that she does. It’s because she has a chance to change the game in the way those three did. Why take a chance at greatness away, or at the very least delay the start of it, from her purely for the amusement of people who want to see and debate if ‘a girl can hang with the guys’? It doesn’t matter if she can. What matters is what she can do and the impact she can have on a world class league like the WNBA.

Griner has the power to change minds about women’s basketball. She has the ability to impact the game in a way we’ve never seen before and may never see again. She also has the chance to be one of the biggest, literally and figuratively, role models for young female athletes around the globe. So why does she need to play into the stereotypical thought patterns we’ve seen on display all week?

She is Brittney Griner, the NCAA’s single season block leader, the record holder of most dunks in NCAA women’s history, has the most block in a season in NCAA history, most blocks in the history of the NCAA Women’s Tournament, most career blocks in NCAA history men’s or women’s a national champion, the likely No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft and possibly could redefine the sport. That’s all she needs to be. Nothing more, nothing less and certainly not compared to men. Her achievements stand, very tall, on their own.

About Greg Esposito

Hi, my name is Greg Esposito, my friends call me Espo and I’m a Phoenix Suns-aholic. I also happen to be the team's Social Media Specialist as well as one of the online content creators. You'll find my sarcastic musings here on Blog.Suns.com as the Suns Retorter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Captin10 Dennis Crane

    Greg….please forgive me for being picky, but….please pay close attention to there,their and they’re. Extremely hard to read a piece that uses their for all three….Good article by the way!

  • http://twitter.com/Espo Greg Esposito

    Dennis,

    Sorry about the typo. Editor sent me two versions and posted the wrong one. Glad you liked it.

  • http://twitter.com/kingturley M R Turley

    It’s all well and good to be a great WNBA player, but being a member of the the league that employees the best players in the game is a bigger deal. Plus, that honor comes with a rather large paycheck. Playing in the NBA means more newspaper space and has a greater inspiration potential. If she can get drafted, why not make history? This argument is silly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brendan.ohmylady Brendan Johny O’Maoileidigh

    Actually, while physical differences do exist between males and females, they are not as great as we make them out to be. In truth, bone densityis a much bigger physical difference than muscle mass. However, throughout a normal females life, she is told she that there is a much larger physical difference between her and normal males than actually exists. Because of this, females perform worse in physical activity. This is called stereotype threat and articles like this breed it. So lets just give Griner a shot to play. If she doesn’t make it, then lets give her credit for trying. If she does, then lets sit back and watch history in the making.

  • http://twitter.com/Espo Greg Esposito

    I’m not trying to stereotype in the least. My point is, why must we compare and contrast everything? Can’t we appreciate her for being a world class athlete and amazing in her sport without having to say “is she as good as the guys?” What does it matter. She’s amazing regardless and should be praised as so.

  • Jacob Roggero

    I think you’re missing the point of the article, and yes there is a big difference between men and women and their genetic makeup. Women don’t perform worse than men simply because they’ve been told they can’t make it. Women are perfectly capable of doing anything men are but it does’t mean that most women’s bodies have the same physical capacity as men’s. The Olympics are a great instance of looking at the amazing achievements that both men and women have accomplished. In some cases certain events are better performed by men and by women. But I would think it would be unfair to have no gender division in all categories. And the point of this article highlights that we shouldn’t have to ask her to live up to someone else’s idea of greatness. Simply because she is a women there is a chance for discrimination in the NBA and as tall as she is she would be undersized for the position she is used to playing. Clearly there isn’t anyone playing at her level right now, but going into the NBA is more for the enjoyment (for all kinds of reasons including the pleasure some might get from seeing her fail) of “fans” than anything that would prove just how good she actually is at what she does.