Interview with 16 year veteran and future Hall of Famer Diana Taurasi from today.
espnW: How do you feel about the pay disparity in the WNBA?
Diana Taurasi: It’s just so sad to me. You know, 15 years in, it’s just such a sad thing to talk about. We had to go to a communist country to get paid like capitalists, which is so backward to everything that was in the history books in sixth grade. And even then, even within our pay scale, it doesn’t make sense. On a team, you could have seven players making the same amount of money. That doesn’t make sense to me.
espnW: The percentage is off, right? Is that the biggest argument?
Taurasi: Something’s missing. I don’t know. I don’t know what the solution is. But what’s going on now, it’s not working. And I use an example of when B.G. [Brittney Griner] was a rookie, she was walking in this arena, and the janitor was making more money than her. But you want Brittney Griner to be this superstar and carry the league into where? The kid’s got to go to Russia [in the offseason] for the next 10 years to get paid what she deserves.
And it’s just shocking to me, as we have the NBA as the best model ever. But the WNBA always finds a way to mess it up. I just don’t get it. I’m so disillusioned with it all … not because of what I had to go through, but for the younger kids. When you’re in it, when you’re playing and you’re young, you don’t worry about these things. You’re just so worried about proving yourself and getting to the playoffs, being a better basketball player.
But when you get older, like Sue [Bird] and I, we start thinking about these things, like it’s been 15 years. I think Sue said it best. In the last 11 years, I think we’ve had a 1.5% increase in our pay salary. I mean, who doesn’t leave that job? It’s like [Lionel] Messi. You play for Barcelona, and then you go back to Argentina and play in a YMCA league because you love the game. And you know what? We come back every single summer because we love the game. It’s pathetic.
espnW: The WNBA says it wants you to be fresh and rested every season, but you have to go overseas to make money?
Taurasi: They don’t care. They don’t care about that. Any league that talks about that – they care about their players – is lying. Like I had to watch [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell talk about player safety. He doesn’t give two sh–s about player safety. Like, they can say all the right things. So I didn’t go overseas [this year]. OK, that’s great. Hey, can you pay for my therapy? Can you pay for my personal trainer so I can be in shape when I come play for you? “No, we can’t do that. That’s against WNBA rules.” Oh, OK, then I’ll just come in here fat and out of shape, since you really care about your product. See? I mean, they can say all the right things, but they need to show us what that means.
espnW: Will the players opting out of the CBA change anything?
Taurasi: Well, those are going to be contentious points, and any time you renegotiate a CBA, they try to throw in all these little minor details that make it look pretty. But at the end of the day, we haven’t been able to fix the biggest thing, and that’s salary. And even on the union side, we can talk about all these other little things, but salary is the most important thing.
Bottom line. They can talk about housing. They can talk about per diem. We won’t have to talk about that stuff if you just paid us more money. And where does that money come from? I don’t know. That’s their job to figure out.