You all may have heard by now that Diana Taurasi is being paid by her Russian club to sit out this upcoming WNBA season. First let me start by saying that I do not blame her and it was the best decision for her to make. My concern is what this means for the WNBA moving forward. This is not a new issue as it has been a problem for the league since it began.
I have read many articles and comments on the matter and there is one consistent theme: THE WNBA SHOULD PAY THEIR PLAYERS MORE!
Sure, but how can they do that when players salary is based off of revenue? This goes back to the reason why I started this blog to begin with. These players need more exposure and every opportunity I get I mention the WNBA to someone (people get really annoyed by me especially in the Summer). There are a couple of Russian clubs that have money to blow and they treat their players like royalty. The do not mind losing money so how can the WNBA compete with that?
I think that we will begin to see more of this especially as star players age. They are on the grind all year and as Sue Bird mentioned in a piece from the New York Times its easier to do in your 20s and this situation will only happen for a small group of WNBA players, it will just happen to be their best players.
I am not sure how many of you read the article about Kristi Toliver during last season but upon reading that I became very worried. The only leverage the WNBA has is that the most competitive league and its what truly makes these players better. They are literally going against the best every night.
As a fan I am worried, but not too much because the future looks promising. As Kate Fagan mentioned in her ESPNW piece we will have to just hope they the players will continue to be emotionally invested in playing for the WNBA because they definitely do not do it for the money. Other star players have been offered by their overseas clubs to sit out for the WNBA but they do not take it because they want to help the WNBA grow.
In the end player’s health is most important and I am okay with her sitting out if it means we get more seasons from Taurasi. The WNBA has been put on notice and they should try to make an effort to increase pay. As Fagan suggested maybe they can limit the number of max salary players on each team or decrease the head coach salary. These players hit the ground running after college and it does not stop unless breaks like this are taken. I would put my worry level on a scale from 1-10 at about a 7 but I have a feeling this was the opening of Pandora’s box.
There was an interview from Taurasi before last season during media day where she stated that she loved coming back to Phoenix and playing for the “best fans in the league” and that it definitely was not the money" which further drives me to promote this league because they really do love playing for American fans and being closer to their families.
Rest up DT! We will be here for you when you come back!