WNBA star: Other players bullied me because I wasn’t gay like them
February 22, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Former WNBA star Candice Wiggins stands by her comments that women’s professional basketball is dominated by lesbians who bullied her for years as a heterosexual player and created a “toxic” culture that was “very, very harmful” to non-conforming players.
Wiggins told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday that she was targeted upon entering the Women’s National Basketball Association as a rookie in 2008 because she was a well-known heterosexual and said she was bullied throughout her eight-year WNBA career.
“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins said in the interview with the Union-Tribune. “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.”
"I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me,” she said. “My spirit was being broken. … 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.’“
Wiggins, 30, was a rare four-time All-American at Stanford and retired from the WNBA last year. She was awarded Woman of the Year by the WNBA as a rookie, and on Tuesday became the first women’s basketball player to be inducted in the Breitbard Hall of Fame, which honors athletes from her native San Diego. She played five seasons with Minnesota Lynx and won a WNBA title with the team in 2011. She also played for the Tulsa Shock, the Los Angeles Sparks and the New York Liberty.
Saying her words “freed my spirit,” Wiggins told the Union-Tribune in a follow-up interview: “There’s nothing that I would take back. I’m not really in a position of taking things back right now … I’m going forward.”
The Union-Tribune reported that while the WNBA did not comment on Wiggins’ remarks, Nneka Ogwumike, president of the WNBA Players Association, said in a statement: “Whether one agrees or disagrees with the comments made recently by a former player, or whether one has seen or experienced anything like what she has described, anything that impacts an inclusive culture should be taken seriously.”
Chicago Sky center Imani Boyette criticized Wiggins on her personal website that said, in part, “Candice, I’m disappointed in you. We should be careful of who we allow to share our stories.,” but defended Wiggins’ right to express her views.
Defending herself, Wiggins said, “I’m not sorry for saying what needs to be said. And I’m not patting myself on the back. It wasn’t brave, but it would have been cowardly for me not to do it.”
“It comes to a point where you get compared so much to the men, you come to mirror the men,” she originally told the Union-Tribune. “So many people think you have to look like a man, play like a man to get respect. I was the opposite. I was proud to a be a woman, and it didn’t fit well in that culture.”
She also complained about low fan interest in the WNBA, which is subsidized by the all-male NBA.
Regarding her comment about the WNBA being 98 percent lesbian, Wiggins in her follow-up interview said she used that figure “more to be illustrative than factual,” the Union-Tribune reported yesterday.
“It was my way to illustrate the isolation that I felt personally,” Wiggins told the newspaper. “I felt like the 2 percent versus the 98 percent. It felt that way to me. And it’s not just the players. It was the coaches. It was the leaders.”
Candice Wiggins is the daughter of Alan Wiggins, who played Major League Baseball for the San Diego Padres. If her Twitter feed is any indication, she is pro-life and politically conservative, retweeting the likes of Thomas Sowell.
Wiggins is writing a book about her years with the WNBA and aspires to be professional beach volleyball player. She told the Union-Tribune that she likes professional volleyball’s camaraderie and its “celebration of women and the female body as feminine, but strong and athletic.”