On Sunday, Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks became the 2nd woman in the history of the WNBA to guide the ball into the hoop without losing it on the way. This display of ridiculous athleticism made June 22nd a true red-letter day, as yet another woman showed the big boys that we can do it just like they can… with a smaller ball… on a fast break… once every 6 years.
The league and media are blowing this up as if the girl jumped out of the gym and shat diamonds upon the masses. I got an email from a WNBA-loving friend on Monday morning claiming, "It’s only a matter of time until we’re huge now!" Oh really? Tell that to the league’s collective 18-inch vertical leap.
If anything, Parker’s dunk (and the overreaction to it) proves that she’s as much a freak of nature now as she was when she embarrassed a group of boys in the 2004 McDonald’s All-America High School Slam Dunk Contest. But according to Parker, we need to brace ourselves for the slam revolution:
"I do know that more and more women are going to do it and it’s something that people are going to have to accept."
Accept? Who’s going to object? Step right up, ladies. The only problem people have with women playing basketball is that they’re totally unwatchable.
Dunk for us. Sky for us. Jump 2 feet in the air without falling down like a sniper tagged you from the rafters. We’ve been waiting on some legit output since you started telling us you got next in that totally misleading ad campaign where Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes rolled up on the playground to challenge the men.
Those commercials left 14 year old me thinking I’d see women playing organized playground ball – slick moves, smooth shots, a little trickery. Got next, indeed. They couldn’t play at the rim, let alone above it. But I shouldn’t have been surprised then and I suppose I shouldn’t be now. Of the thousands of women that have played D-1 ball in the last 25 years, only 4 have registered dunks in games. And before Lisa Leslie showed out for the Sparks in 2002, the professional dunking woman was a myth like Bigfoot, wish-granting fairies and unicorns that dance under rainbows. There were always sightings at playgrounds and closed practices but when cameras appeared for documentation, hops would scatter like cockroaches in the light.
I’ve long held that this game is the last refuge for girls that want to be athletes but aren’t agile, flexible or fast enough to hack it anywhere else, and Parker’s dunk reinforces that belief. You can turn a soccer or volleyball player into a basketball player but you’d have more luck catching a naked, Vaseline-covered crackhead than trying to go the other way.
While the best female athletes tear up tracks, soccer pitches and tennis courts; spike balls over volleyball nets and hit 110 mph pitches out of softball fields, hoops continues to offer up a few talented athletes and a horde of slow-as-molasses girls with pointy elbows and skinned knees that can barely walk and chew gum at the same time. If the league was made up of 150 Diana Taurasis, Candace Parkers, Sue Birds, Tamika Catchings and Lisa Leslies, you wouldn’t hear me say a word. But it’s not even close. You’ve got these 5 ladies and 145 female Luc Longleys. And while it’s fantastic that Parker went up one-handed and sent the ball home, the gratuitous coverage is not only patently absurd but it is also pretty sad.
Wake me up when a couple women start abusing league centers like they’re Shawn Bradley. Contact me when players stop shooting ugly rockets off their hips. Give me a tap when watching a matchup that isn’t the championship game no longer means 40 minutes of underhanded layups and cramps. Christ – just let me know when something consistently entertaining sets up shop instead of pimping what you don’t have. When the league can pull that off, I might watch more than 6 minutes without falling asleep or passing out from shame.