WNBA star Breanna Stewart and President Lisa Borders respond to accusations from former player Candice Wiggins about being bullied during her eight-year career.
Storm star forward Breanna Stewart said the WNBA should investigate allegations former player Candice Wiggins who said she was bullied and targeted because she identifies as heterosexual.
“If they were to look into it, I don’t think that anyone would have a problem with it,” Stewart said during an interview with ESPN. “If they want to figure out who is right and who is wrong in this story, that’s the smartest way to do it.
“You have to respect Candice. And like I said, if that’s her story, it sucks that that happened. But there is a lot missing in this story. For the league to find what’s missing and put the pieces together, make more sense than just ‘I was straight, and I was bullied for it.’ There’s a lot more to it, I’m sure.”
Wiggins, the former Stanford standout who was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 draft, cites years of abuse during her eight-year WNBa career. She was voted the league’s Sixth Woman of the Year as a rookie. She won a championship with the Minnesota Lynx.
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“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins said in an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune, which was published Monday. “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules they (the other players) could apply.
“There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we’re all fighting for crumbs. The way I looked, the way I played — those things contributed to the tension. People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time. I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’ ”
After five years at Minnesota, Wiggins played for Tulsa (2013), Los Angeles (2014) and New York (2015) before abruptly retiring last year at the age of 29, citing physical stress and a loss of passion for the sport.
“I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA and, without revealing too much, it was toxic for me,” said Wiggins, who averaged 8.6 points during her career. “My spirit was being broken.”
In a statement released Thursday by the WNBA, league President Lisa Borders said: “Of course, it concerns me if any of our players do not have a positive experience and I hope that anyone who feels uncomfortable would reach out to me or others in the league office.”
“In my time with the league and my capacity as a fan before that, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a group of highly competitive women who are driven to succeed at the highest level on the court,” Borders says, “and constantly striving to help create opportunity for all members of their communities. In keeping with that, I’ve found our players to be earnest, heartfelt and eloquent in their responses to Candice’s comments and, as always, clear in their commitment to our league’s core values of diversity, inclusion and respect.”
Stewart, the 2016 Rookie of the Year winner, said she had a “great time” with the Storm.
“I know every team isn’t like that, but in my rookie season, I felt like everyone had open arms,” Stewart said. “I’ve never heard that it was an environment where you didn’t feel safe and you didn’t feel comfortable. If anything, it’s an environment where you should feel comfortable. It’s a place where nothing matters — race, sexuality — except whether you have game.”