The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, April 17,2019
More is more — Kristine Anigwe interview — Must-click women's basketball links
(Editor’s challenge for you reading this today: tell one friend who would be interested in women’s sports in your inbox, five times a week, about The IX. Help expand our reach. Women’s sports will win when we do.)
More is more
Hello, I am sad about Breanna Stewart, too. Lots of ripple effects from her injury, but today: just unalloyed sadness across the basketball world.
However, I come to you with a different conversation this week, one that truly, I have trouble fathoming. The debate apparently exists around the following: WNBA support on social media, good or bad?
No, really. Take a look.
I saw this a few hours after another basketball writer, Myles Brown, wrote something similar, which he has since taken down after getting upset that I wasn’t all that polite about calling him out. Guess he’s on his fainting couch now.
People: buying tickets and tweeting is not some binary choice. Let’s start with what is clear: there are more people talking WNBA, and women’s basketball in general, on social media than ever before. And yes, concurrent to that, if not because of it, television ratings are up, significantly, for the league as well.
But I guess, if we are to give credit for this argument existing beyond just the desire to unleash Galaxy Brain on women’s basketball, set this against a relatively static attendance number, league-wide, and it can seem like not everyone tweeting about the league is also a season ticket holder.
The thing is: that’s fine. That’s to be expected. There are a ton of WNBA fans who don’t live in-market, who consume the league in many other ways, just like the NBA, or MLB, or the NFL.
Now as someone who spends too much time online, it is hard for me to fathom that the problem, such as it is, exists in the folks who are talking up the league, and not, you know, the misogynists who swarm to posts about the league, or by players within it, on a regular basis.
Because here’s the thing: even if I am to believe that there’s a large group of folks out there who learn about Elena Delle Donne, and then tweet about Elena Delle Donne, but for some foolish reason intentionally don’t go watch Elena Delle Donne, guess what? Because they’ve already expanded the online conversation and awareness of Elena Delle Donne, she wins. Women’s basketball wins.
And generally speaking? The online women’s basketball community seems to treasure every chance to watch the league, college basketball, overseas links when we can get them. Hence ALL THE TWEETING. People love it.
(I do look forward to the attendance argument gaining even more strength in the coming years from people who don’t notice the league is shifting to smaller venues. That’s going to be just swell.)
There’s one other fairly insidious aspect to this, which is that there are some folks among us who look askance at the newcomers, who see them as interlopers. And I’d just reiterate my take on that since time immemorial: if we want to grow the game, by definition, that means adding new people to the mix. Coverage comes in many forms: from the true believers, from writers who can only occasionally convince their editors to let them show up, from new outlets and old.
But more is more. Every new voice means the overall sound is harder for people to ignore. Even if it’s performative from a portion of the media, that’s media coverage we didn’t previously see at all. There’s nothing negative about it.
So yes, don’t just tweet about the league. Show up, too. But both are valuable, and one doesn’t preclude the other. There’s a reason businesses all over the world employ social media influencers. The WNBA is adding them organically, because it’s an amazing product.
This is good. Let’s stop straining so hard to pretend otherwise.
This week in women’s basketball
It’s been quite a week, so let’s not forget it started with this fun news: Isabelle Harrison is coming back to the league!
James Wade is quite the enigma right now in Chicago, good thing the Chicago Sun-Times has Madeline Kenney on the case.
Laken Litman is absolutely right: the current period of time players have to decide whether to declare early is grossly insufficient.
Enjoy Lyndsey D’Arcangelo spending draft night with Cierra Dillard.
And Danielle Lerner doing the same with Asia Durr.
The IX’s Lindsay Gibbs talked WNBA Draft with Ari Chambers and Natalie Weiner.
Michelle Smith has you covered if you’re already ready for Pac-12 next season.
This Allison Glock feature on Asia Durr is just superb.
As is this Kyle Ratke dispatch from inside the Lynx war room.
Hoping for the best for Becca Greenwell, who writes about her struggle to return from injury.
I try my best to fill you in on the Liz Cambage ongoing trade saga.
Mike Anthony looks at the bigger picture on the risks of players like Breanna Stewart heading overseas.
Those who follow me on Twitter know I am very high on Sophie Cunningham, more so after reading this Jeff Metcalfe piece on her.
She is one reason Phoenix is one of my big winners in my team-by-team draft recap. (I think Minnesota won the draft, though.) Links to all the High Post Hoops draft work is in there, and they absolutely killed it.
Tweet of the week
Five at The IX: Kristine Anigwe, Connecticut Sun
Anigwe spoke to reporters at Nike headquarters in New York, just after getting drafted by the Sun. Wanted to be sure to highlight her insightful take on the night, and the larger landscape.
REPORTER: You know come in as an elite rebounder for the team that lead the league last year in rebounding percentage, I mean, does it just feel like this is meant to be?
KRISTINE ANIGWE: This whole experience is so unreal. I feel very confident in my rebounding ability and to be at this level and them trusting in me and drafting me and having the belief in me, I can’t believe it.
REPORTER: Can you talk a little bit about what this day was like? From picking your outfits and then getting ready…
KRISTINE ANIGWE: This whole entire day was unreal. They had us do makeup, and I don’t usually do makeup, but I was a little uncomfortable, but getting used to it and being with all these really, really beautiful ladies I’ve been feeling a lot of confidence in myself.
My outfit…my mom chose it for me actually. It’s been great, I have a lot of family and friends here, so I’m excited.
REPORTER: I know you’re in heels right now…are you a legit 6’4, 6’5? How tall are you right now? It seems like people are under listing you for most of your college career.
KRISTINE ANIGWE: Oh, I’m 6’4. I’m 6’7 in these heels.
REPORTER: Being 6’4, those players at that height are still looking to get out beyond the three point line and shoot from distance. I’m wondering, is that something you’re particularly looking forward to, especially in Connecticut, where they do it so often?
KRISTINE ANIGWE: What ever role they want me to be in is the role that I’m going to be in. I’m not going to try to overextend myself because that’s the quickest way to make a coach angry. I’m gonna do what they want me to do. I’ma do my role and I’m tryin to excel in that role so my coach can trust me.
REPORTER: And getting your family out here and stuff, that was no problem?
KRISTINE ANIGWE: Yeah, couple of my best friends came and my coach, a lot of the staff came. It’s been cool…just being in the situation. All the media…thank you for covering us because, again, we don’t have that much coverage. I’m just really really looking forward to the day when WNBA and NBA can have the same amount of coverage. So I’m excited, this is a step in the right direction. This is a beautiful facility, the new logo is changing lives, you know? These little girls looking up to us, inspired by our logo, inspired by our videos, inspired by us. So if we can just keep going in the right direction I think we’re gonna have a lot of positive things happen in the future.