On Tuesday in the conference room outside his NBA office in Manhattan, I asked the commissioner whether we'll see a woman playing in his league someday.And later in the piece:
"Sure," he said matter-of-factly. "I think that's well within the range of probability."
I asked if we might see a woman playing NBA basketball within a decade.
"I think we might," said Stern. "I don't want to get into all kinds of arguments with players and coaches about the likelihood. But I really think it's a good possibility."
Thomsen admits the context of the question probably affected Stern's answers. The way Thomsen asked him the questions, Stern might be seen as a chauvinist for saying he didn't think so. Still...
With all due respect to Shelden Williams and his wife Candace Parker (is it Candace Williams now?), the time for a woman to play in the NBA is a long, long time away. Just think about it: Candace Parker is the single most athletic player in the WNBA today, and she can barely dunk a basketball. In fact, she's no more athletic or physically imposing than your average male high school forward. And she's the absolute cream of the WNBA crop.
Don't get me wrong, I think women's basketball is filled with highly skilled players, players who are just as skilled as their men counterparts. But they are nowhere near athletic enough, nor strong enough, to compete in the NBA.
For a woman to ever make it into the NBA, it would have to be the perfect storm. She'd have to be the most athletic player in the WNBA, and also the best shooter. She'd have to play for a coach who doesn't mind playing zone to hide her defensively, and she'd have to be strong enough not to get destroyed even in a zone.
If you ask me, the time won't come nearly as soon as Stern and Ian Thomsen seem to think. But who knows...
The perfect storm might come sooner than I think.