The WNBA draft is Monday. Drysdale is vice president of the Phoenix Mercury, which will be making the first overall pick.
Brittney Griner, the Baylor beauty who may be on par with Elgin Baylor in his day, waits for her name to be called. But it’s not a slam-dunk decision, Drysdale says.
The Mercury is looking at all possible angle — including the one supposedly offered by Mark Cuban, who hints loudly that he wants Griner to at least try out with his Dallas Mavericks.
For the publicity? To prove that Griner is capable of playing against the upper echelon of male players? To feed his own ego?
And if Griner does somehow deviate to an NBA roster, doesn’t that mess up any plans Drysdale may have with the future of franchise?
Bring it on, she says.
“It’s an opportunity, an open door, all positive,” Drysdale said.
“A couple of years ago, (NBA commissioner) David Stern said he didn’t think it was impossible to see a woman in the league down the road.”
Drysdale paused to laugh. This is hardly the circus that happened around her when she came out of UCLA as a four-time All-American, and Olympic silver-medal winner – and signed a contract with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers in 1979 (watch the video here).
“More than 30 years later, look at this media firestorm that’s been created. If you’re asking if it’s a plus or a minus, I think it’s a plus. Whether or not she does it, that’s her thing.”
Even at the expense of the Mercury’s future? Of the WNBA’s fragile future? Of the NBA’s credibility?
No, Meyers never made the Pacers’ roster. But she also didn’t want to risk her amateur status either. Her goal was to play on the 1980 U.S. Olympic women’s team. Then there came the boycott, and . . .
“My decision was very difficult. We had the WBL (now defunct Women’s Basketball League), and I was the No. 1 pick, but this was hard. I made my decision before President Carter decided to boycott. That ripped my heart out. It changed my life.”
She turned to broadcasting. She married Don Drysdale. She started a family, three kids who are almost all grown up now.
A New York Times headline said Cuban’s offer “would doom Griner to an NBA sideshow.”
The show tonigth in downtown L.A. that Drysdale plans to attend is one where she’ll likely see the 6-foot-8 Griner win her second Wooden Award. Earlier this week at the Women’s Final Four in New Orleans, Griner picked up her second straight U.S. Basketball Writer’s honor — a trophy, by the way, called the Ann Meyers Drysdale Player of the Year Award.
Drysdale, also a VP with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, says she still thinks the first female in the NBA will be a guard, “but there will be always pressures and innuendos and all kinds of things to deal with no matter who it is.
“I’m not here to say if she can or can’t do it. That’s not my role. I can’t walk in her shoes. She’s still very raw and learning the game.
“I always loved the challenge and wanted to play against the best, whoever that was. What I’m asking for everyone to stay positive about this. The attention she’s getting is all positive.”
Positive about that?
“We’ll find out Monday,” Drysdale said.