Retired Women’s Basketball Star Says Supposedly Tolerant WNBA Oppresses Heterosexual Players

Sylvia Fowles, Lynetta Kizer

A recently retired Women’s National Basketball Association player is charging the league with bullying and oppressing players who aren’t gay.

Candice Wiggins retired at the relatively young age of 30 from the WNBA’s New York Liberty after a standout career including being chosen for the WNBA All-Rookie Team in 2008, earning WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year in 2008, and going to the WNBA finals in 2011. Her professional career is on top of a very long list of high school honors earned between 2001 and 2004.

But in a new interview, Wiggins says she was essentially hounded out of the league because she isn’t gay, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Wiggins said that she wanted to keep playing but the fact that the league itself has so few fans “didn’t lend itself to my mental state.”

“It was a depressing state in the WNBA. It’s not watched. Our value is diminished. It can be quite hard. I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me. … My spirit was being broken,” Wiggins said.

But she also noted that the major problems between players also added to her anguish.

“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge. I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place,” Wiggins charged. “There was a whole different set of rules they (the other players) could apply. There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we’re all fighting for crumbs. The way I looked, the way I played – those things contributed to the tension.”

“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,” she added.

The retired player insisted that the message given by gay players was: “We want you to know we don’t like you.”

“It comes to a point where you get compared so much to the men, you come to mirror the men,” Wiggins concluded. “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.”

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