Mark Cuban Evolves on Women in the NBA

Mark Cuban / AP

Amid the fired coaches and exploded shins, the biggest story of the 2013 NCAA Basketball tournament is the future of Baylor’s Brittney Griner. Ever since Griner’s first dunk as a freshman there's been speculation that if the 6'8″ center continued to develop in size and game she could theoretically be drafted into the NBA.

And leave it to the most innovative professional sports owner in America to step up to the plate now that Griner’s college career has ended:

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would be willing to give Baylor women's star Brittney Griner the opportunity to prove she could play in the NBA.

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Cuban said he would consider selecting Griner, a 6-foot-8 three-time All-American and Big 12 player of the year, in the second round of the NBA draft. If the Mavs don't draft her, Cuban said he would have "no problem whatsoever" inviting Griner to try out for a spot on Dallas' summer league team.

"If she is the best on the board, I will take her," Cuban said before the Mavs' Tuesday night game against the Los Angeles Lakers. "I've thought about it. I've thought about it already. Would I do it? Right now, I'd lean toward yes, just to see if she can do it. You never know unless you give somebody a chance, and it's not like the likelihood of any late-50s draft pick has a good chance of making it."

News of the historic prospect of a woman being drafted to an American professional sports franchise has been buried by Joe Theismann on the hardwood and a sociopath getting canned for chucking basketballs at his players.  Word to Jason Whitlock for illustrating how this year’s tourney before the Kevin Ware injury and the firing of Mike Rice was a largely middling affair, with a lack of upsets and compelling stories.

How two off-the-court principals in the men’s game have overshadowed the biggest story in women’s athletics is just another demonstration of how America views male and female athletics. Title IX doesn’t count for the media coverage.

The argument for why Cuban should pull the trigger on drafting Griner is self-explanatory. Griner has the talent and size to play in the shrinking center position. The marketing would write itself since Griner would be playing her high school, college, and professional career in Texas. And it’s not like she wouldn’t have anywhere to go if she doesn’t make the final roster, since the WNBA or any women’s league overseas would happily pick up where the Dallas Mavericks left off.

Every pioneer has her doubters. UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma pooped in everyone's ice cream by saying Griner being drafted by the Mavs would be a "sham" and the thought of her competing with men as "absolutely ludicrous."

Respect to Gino, but it’s not like Griner is signing up for a combat role in the military. All of the hooting and hollering from the left celebrating women being able to serve in combat billets has dulled to a murmur now that women are falling short under the intense physical requirements of the Marine infantry courses. Griner is playing basketball. So let’s keep it real. No one is getting shot at. It’s a game.

It’s highly unlikely Griner will ever make a NBA roster, or even be drafted. But I see Cuban seriously considering a woman in the NBA as similar to the evolving position of Republican senators Rob Portman and Mark Kirk on gay marriage. Republicans may never fully embrace gay marriage, but two U.S. senators shifting positions gives credibility to the idea.

Cuban thinking of drafting Griner gives credibility to the idea that women can ball just as well as men.