Britney Griner and the WNBA vs. the World

Image

Whether Britney Griner can play in the NBA successfully is NOT really the point.

In several interviews and statements since Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks (among other things), supposedly offered her a chance to play for his NBA team this upcoming season, the All-World Baylor basketball player has stated her willingness to bang inside against the boys.

Ahem. I should say men. Big, powerful men.

There are so many things wrong with this situation, I don’t even know where to begin.

Cuban doesn’t really WANT her to start for his team next season, and even if he were to use a 1st rounder on her (which he won’t), there is a 0 percent chance that she would get her way like she has her entire collegiate career so far. It’s not hard to see that Cuban is just looking for a PR boost, strutting his peacock feathers in front of the national spotlight.

I mean it’s not like it’s out of character, but it’s still pretty low, even for him.

Nor am I saying that Griner should straight-faced refuse the invitation to play in the best basketball arena in the world. I just don’t see this as the giant all-things-equal opportunity that opens the floodgates for women to play in the NBA.

She’s just not in a position to make a move that warrants a high draft pick, which is just another way of saying she’s going to be successful at her given position. I just don’t see her being able to post up any of the dominate bigs in the league, whether it’s Roy Hibbert, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, or even Tyler Hansbrough.

On second thought maybe she could post up Hansbrough.

This job offer is like the ball of hard candy at your grandparents house, all sticky and covered in dust and lint from years of sitting in a fancy glass serving dish in the sun. Nobody is ever going to eat any, that’s a given. But when your grandma asks whether you’d like a sweet for being such an amazing grandchild, it’s only polite for you to grit your teeth, stifle a shudder, and pretend like you are touched to the bottom of your heart for the offer.

And quickly sneak out the backdoor as soon as humanly possible.

Ms. Griner is a great basketball player, perhaps even one of the all-time best women’s basketball players in NCAA history. With her height and athleticism, I’m sure she could at least compete for a starting job in the NBA. If not for Dallas, then one of the other struggling cubs like New Orleans or Charlotte.

It’s not like she can play worse than Anthony Davis (so far), or Greg Oden, or the guy who filled in for Kevin Love when he was out with a broken hand. Oh, and JaVale McGee prior to  the Denver trade.

Facts are facts. If someone is going to break the stigma of a female playing in the regular NBA, it’s not going to be the biggest, tallest or strongest woman to ever play college ball. The musculature, the weight difference, the physicality of the men’s game, these are things that are real challenges that the average female player is not going to be able to overcome through sheer strength or speed.

Luckily there are many other ways to succeed in the NBA.

Does anyone really think that Griner is going to challenge LeBron James for an entire game, keeping him out of the paint, pushing him around, blocking his step back jump shot.

How about Kevin Durant’s sweet stroke from 3-point land, is her length going to keep him from jumping 3 feet in the air and knocking down shots in her face?

These are just average situations that would challenge her on a daily basis, things she would have to be able to handle if she’s going to continue to play the Center/Power Forward position.

This is what I think.If women are ever going to really challenge for spots on an NBA roster, it’s going to take quickness, agility, speed, ballhandling skills and an extremely high basketball IQ. Women like Maya Moore, around 6 ft and 175 lbs, could arguably be more than a match for many of the smaller point guards that continue to thrive in modern men’s basketball.

(Just in case you’ve never heard of her, Moore is at LEAST as heralded and decorated as Griner hopes to be. She’s won a championship with nearly every team she’s ever played for, at UConn, in Euroleague, in China, with the WNBA Lynx, in high school, and of course in the Olympics last year.)

For example, Heat PG Mike Bibby is 6 ft 2 in and close to 190 lbs. That hasn’t stopped him from being efficient and effective against much larger and more imposing competition. Mugsy Bogues (did I mention he’s a Baltimore native? I just had to point that out.) was only 5 ft 3 in, 141 lbs and yet managed to become a star while playing 16 seasons in the NBA. Oh, and he blocked shots and stole balls routinely, contrary to what logic dictates.

Steve Nash (6’3″ 178 lbs), Chris Paul (6’0″ 175 lbs), the list of NBA players not 7 ft or 250 lbs goes on and on. As big and dominating as Griner is at the highest level of collegiate women’s basketball, she would be sidelined as only another “big” in a game filled with men of equal or larger stature.

My point is that size and strength isn’t the only way men, or women for that matter, can find a niche position in the NBA. Even a bench player such as Mike Miller or even Ray Allen at this point in his career can be of great benefit to his team, and still make an annual salary that far exceeds that of the average doctor, lawyer or successful stockbroker.

If you’ve ever stopped to watch D-I or professional women’s basketball, there are certain truths that can be gleaned by even the most casual of fans.

1. Highlight reel dunks are going to be a rarity rather than a given during the course of an entire game. (Unless your Britney Griner.)

2. Strategy actually plays an important part of every single regular season game, on offense and defense. Oftentimes an exceptional specimen such as the human dunk machine, Clippers F Blake Griffin, can take over an entire game by himself. There’s not much strategy or teamwork necessary to keep Lob City churning along. That’s not opinion, that’s just the plain, naked truth.

Women on the whole cannot use their overwhelming athleticism to completely bypass the opponents gameplan, and thus require a higher average basketball IQ to compete on a regular basis.

If their bodies could hold up over the course of a brutal 82 game regular season, I don’t see why they couldn’t be an asset at the guard position. We’re not talking about muscling out defenders in the paint or fighting for offensive rebounds here.

If women can accurately pass the ball to teammates while being able to cut around defenders to the basket with fine dribbling skills, who says it’s impossible for there to be a female NBA world champion? A female all-star point guard.

3. I know this isn’t exactly on topic but there’s something about the way women shoot from behind the arc that just looks a little awkward.

Don’t tell me you don’t notice when there’s an audible grunt and what looks like a ton of effort to make the ball travel an extra 5 to 10 feet to the basket. I mean is it really that much more difficult?

And it’s not just the effort that makes it look odd, it’s also the trajectory that seems to be much higher than in the men’s game. Hasn’t anyone told them that the higher the shooting angle, the more distance the ball has to travel before it gets to the basket?

In no way am I saying that women are less accurate than their male counterparts. I just think they make it look more difficult than it really is. I also realize that the game of basketball doesn’t come to how your shot looks but it’s not like they shoot like that from anywhere else on the court.

Women’s Jewelry for the Modern Man

Excuse me ma’am, does that ring come in men’s sizes?

Ever since I was little, I KNEW there was something different about me. Since a young age, I often found myself looking into the wrong glass display case. Instead of looking at stuff I thought was acceptable for a young man such as myself to wear, I spent hours staring longingly at the colorful women’s jewelry on every long, exhausting trip to the mall with my mother. As I grew older, after collecting gems for most of my formative years, I started to realize that most men were fated to end up wearing a particular style of jewelry, depending on race, sexual orientation and choice of profession. These are just a few that I’ve seen over the years:

Thick gold chains = Hairy as Hell, Fat Italians

Long white gold/platinum necklaces w/diamonds(Bling-Bling) = Rappers, Fake Thugs

Hemp & bead necklaces = Potheads or Drug Addicts

Dog-tag necklaces = Military Men

Spiky dog collars or black chokers = Punk Rocker

Dragon’s claw rings and necklaces with superhero emblems = 40-Year Old Virgin

Any jewelry with colored gemstones = Homosexual

Where did this come from?

When did man start to believe that a REAL man only wears plain metal jewelry? Looking fresh is looking fresh, regardless of what it is. Maybe a man shouldn’t wear a pearl necklace, or wearing flowers in his hair, putting glitter on his skin or wearing lipstick, but jewelry? I’ve always been a fan of antique design, a period of our history when we put time and effort and care into making hand-crafted objects to idolize and cherish. To stare at again and again and remember every detail and pattern that took hundreds of hours of hammering and carving to make.

Just as an example, take the time to actually look at a hand-forged Katana(Japanese sword)from the 18th and 19th century http://www.ebay.com/itm/Japanese-Samurai-Sword-Katana-Signed-MINAMOTO-KIYOMARO-August-1851-AD-/230847822537?pt=Asian_Antiques&hash=item35bf9a3ac9.  You can’t possibly imagine how much time went into making a sword like that one. What makes the craftsmanship so fascinating is the knowledge that this piece of forged carbon steel was just as important as food, clothing, water or shelter. During most of Japan’s history, the craftsmanship of a sword was only as good as it’s ability to hold an edge, to defend its owner from marauding bandits, rapists and worse. If your engagement ring got a crack, it wouldn’t break during battle and get you and your family killed.

This is just talking about the sword blade alone. After countless long days standing in front of a blistering hot furnace, what craftsman today would take the time to forge a beautifully made scabbard(sword sheath), wrap the hilt(handle) in stingray skin leather and engrave everything in cranes, dragons, cherry blossoms, etc., all by HAND?? Practically no one. These days, just about everything is mass-produced on factory assembly lines, stamped from huge sheets of metal into uniform shape and size. Started by machines and finished by machines. Even when human hands still cut the gems and hammer the metal, the level of skill and commitment necessary to make family heirlooms has nearly disappeared.

.

Rather than complain all day and do nothing about the source of the problem, I’ve decided to let my hands do the talking. I’ve begun the long and arduous process of designing my own hand-crafted jewelry. It really bothers me that the things I’m looking for in a piece of jewelry, especially MEN’S jewelry, don’t exist or exist but cost an obscene amount of money, so I’ll try to make it myself. I’m doing this or a few simple reasons:

1. Jewelry made by hand will ALWAYS be better than jewelry made by factories and assembly lines. There are simply too many techniques, passed down from master to student, that cannot be reproduced by a machine. Some things are better left to machines that can make an exact duplicate, every single time.When making parts for a stealth fighter-jet or a computer that keeps my heart ticking, I’ll take the machine every time. When selecting a piece of jewelry that symbolizes my eternal love for my wife, I’ll take the master craftsman.

2. Most jewelry made today meets far less-exacting standards. There are a lot more people living on the earth today than ever before. Instead of millions, there are billions of people, each wanting goods and services. A single machine can make countless more pieces of jewelry than even a handful of men. The jewelry they make have a lot less craftsmanship, but a combination of mass-production and lower prices can collectively earn more money. After you die and your family is auctioning off your estate, if your jewelry can only be melted down and sold as scrap metal by weight, the craftsmanship probably isn’t very good.

3. I think it’s WAY past time someone re-introduce the pleasure of enjoying colored gemstones to the modern man. There is absolutely nothing wrong with women wearing emeralds, rubies, sapphires, opals, tanzanite, garnet and topaz; I just think it would be a better world if men didn’t constantly worry someone was going to call them a homosexual every time they wear someone other than colorless diamonds. Not that chocolate or black diamonds are worthless, it’s just most of their value depends on commercials & advertising. Trust me when I tell you that wearing imperial peach topaz earrings will in no way make you less attractive to women; More likely they will shout: “Here’s a courageous man, comfortable with his masculinity and willing to show it by wearing expensive peach/pink earrings.” My jewelry will set my customers apart from the crowd.

4. It’s probably not as hard as you think to create beautiful, interesting, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces that my customers will want to eventually pass down to their children and grandchildren. All it takes is a little dedication, a little creativity and a fair amount of technical skill. To me, the most important aspect of jewelry-making is that you make your items with passion, ensuring the fact that a little piece of my soul remains inside every  finished work. I think that sounds like something worth sharing.

5. Go ahead and plug “Handmade Jewelry” into your favorite search engine. Look at a bunch of jewelry-selling websites. I don’t care which one, it probably won’t matter, most of them look the same anyway. The only difference are the prices, I think most of the time they are just making it up along the way. Would it be so hard to stop making the same old rings and earrings, devoid of any originality? Jewelry packed with the same generic synthetic-gemstones whether you stop by Kay, Wal-Mart or Costco. These cheap knock-offs are no replacement for the colored gems found in nature.

6. Here’s a big problem I have with men’s jewelry… especially those ugly ass wedding rings! Not only do companies push cheap, tiny, nearly worthless diamonds on us(note: they’re called Melee diamonds), they charge exorbitant prices for a piece of jewelry that sometimes isn’t worth even 10% of its retail price. A bulky, tasteless gold ring with half a carat worth of diamonds sometimes cost over $1500 on average. The tiny diamonds aren’t even usually of good quality, frequently being tinted yellow/brown and being visibly flawed. How do you get VISIBLE flaws in a diamond 1/100th of a carat( 0.02 grams)??? Especially in a ring that’s mass-produced, with barely a whisper of filigree-work, engraving or general craftsmanship.

Big jewelry store chains like Jared the Galleria, Kay, Littman, Shaw and Helzberg diamonds are fleecing the public, padding they’re collective bottom-line by selling wholesale jewelry at retail prices, taking advantage of the ignorance and stupidity of the average consumer. It’s up to me and the other small local businesses to give them a better option. By creating a market for hand-crafted goods with beautiful colored gemstones, we will be helping them save money for more important things, like honeymoon vacations or buying a car.

At least this is what I hope for, changes I will strive to bring about in the jewelry business. People are willing to shell out their hard-earned income on expensive jewelry, as long as it’s tasteful, classy and most importantly, they don’t feel instant buyer’s remorse for being duped or hoodwinked. Why pay retail price for jewelry when it’s usually not worth the metal & gemstones it’s made from.

~MSW, Wong_83@hotmail.com

Looking for more from the author? Check out his Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/kyarnboy.

Also, take a look at some of his other articles @ https://kyarnboy.wordpress.com/