Verdicts from the league office are one thing. Real change in the locker room is quite another. “It’s more about stigmas than anything else, and I think with those stigmas you have people who are going to be judged,” said Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm. “I think on the men’s side, they’re not quite there yet. Jason Collins, for him to do that, particularly in the basketball world, he was the one who kind of broke down the barrier. And maybe in the future, it’ll change. But I think right now there’s still that stigma. I would love for it to change, because it’s really not that big of a deal in all reality. “The NBA moving the All-Star game was a tremendous stand. It’s about the NBA having that platform to create change that needs to be created.”
Taurasi, and many others, remain skeptical real change and inclusion will come. “Probably not,” she said to that question. “I mean (being gay) is just taboo. It’s something that I feel like a lot of those guys think is a weakness, and they look down upon it. That’s a lot of upbringing. A lot of that is religion, so I think once they get past those things maybe in the future. “It must be hard for them to know that they walk into the locker room having to put a façade on every day. I think one day, like (former University of Missouri football player) Michael Sam did, like Jason did, like a lot of the players in our league have done, it won’t be talked about. It will just be like anything else.”
The chosen opponent? DeMarcus Cousins, the Sacramento Kings big man and fellow Team USA talent who has been ribbing Griner while on the cruise ship both teams are sharing. “I would love to just go out there and play against (Cousins),” said Griner, who has never played against NBA talent. “We talk a lot of crap to each other. I love talking to him. He’s really funny. I would love to just go out there and play against him.
“When the men last year did the ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts for a brief period of time, it was not the case that they were playing the game in the shirts and while it was technically a violation of the uniform policy, I thought the league did exactly the right thing by not attempting to impose any sanctions. I was disturbed when there were sanctions imposed against the women because, in my view, it’s not too terribly different from what the men had done and in no way had disrupted the game and so I was distressed but pleased when the fines were rescinded.” Roberts said she feels a sense of pride in watching these players, some millennials, conjure memories of their predecessors with political and social activism.