On a recent weekend, I attended a housewarming barbeque for a buddy. And, it should be noted, he’s a bachelor.
(This is important because I made the mistake of bothering to shower, wear a presentable shirt, and bring an actual gift purchased by the wife. Geez, what a bonehead move on my part considering not a single other attendee had even bothered to shave, much less bathe or shop. Think housewarming party at a frat house.)
That said, it’s probably not surprising that the biggest and best furnishing in the house? You guessed it. By far, the television. A big screen, flat screen TV featuring non-stop UFC pay-per-view bouts all evening.
Yes, we’re trying to paint a picture and set the scene: beer, bbq, Doritos, MMA, backward baseball caps and sports talk. In fact, we should’ve simulcast the conversation on Arizona Sports 620. No doubt, we covered all the hot topics — Cards QB question, D-backs minus J-Up, Suns stink, LeBron vs MJ, dudes with idiotic workouts at the gym and …wait for it… women’s college basketball?!
In hindsight, it was a good thing we were on the patio as the conversation turned because I reacted with an involuntary spit take into the bougainvillea.
Yes, a bunch of guys spontaneously started talking women’s hoops unprompted. No joke, no embellishment. Although, truth be told, the talk revolved around a single woman hoopster — Brittney Griner.
And right there, that’s why the Phoenix Mercury will draft Griner #1 overall next month.
Can she play? Can she block shots? Can she dunk? Absolutely. But that’s not groundbreaking. Not at all. Diana Taurasi is the more decorated player and she already sports a Mercury uniform (how many corporate logo patches this season — three?)
The bigger question is — does the WNBA player matter? Ding. Does she create chatter? Double-ding. And, most importantly, will Brittney Griner move the meter in the marketplace? Ding-a-cha-ching.
Sunday night, Griner had her 15th career dunk amongst 33 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. Defending national champion Baylor opened the NCAAs with an 82-40 jackstomping of Prairie View.
That’s great. But once again, what really separates Griner is that people aren’t just watching her, they’re talking about her.
“Her wingspan is amazing,” said Latia Williams, the SWAC Player of the Year. “Her hands are huge. When she grabbed my hand and helped me up, her hand was on my forearm. She’s cool.”
No, what’s really cool is that Griner’s celebrity is starting to exceed her skills.
“It was amazing. It was amazing,” said Prairie View guard Jeanette Jackson. “We got star struck.”
And we’re not just hearing from opposing players. What if we said, like my buddies at the bbq, that LeBron James opined on Brittney Griner recently.
“She’s awesome,” James said. “It’s not like she’s just catching and laying it or dunking every time either. She’s shooting turnaround jumpers. She’s drop-stepping over her left shoulder, right shoulder, shooting jumpers. She’s got a fade-away jumper. And she’s dunking the ball, too. She’s great.”
Griner to the Mercury. That’s going to be slam dunk number 16 in her career.