Last week SI senior writer Ian Thomsen asked NBA commissioner David Stern a simple question: Could a woman ever play in his league? Off-the-wall doesn't begin to describe the query; even the staunchest women's hoops fan would admit that Thomsen might as well have asked Gordon Ramsay when we'll be eating three-course meals in Willy Wonka--style chewing gum. But Stern didn't blink. "Sure," he answered. "I think that's well within the range of probability." The commish added that he wouldn't be shocked to see a female NBA player within a decade.
This is an article from the Dec. 14, 2009 issue
Was Stern laying the groundwork for a future p.r. stunt? Or is he a prophet who sounds loony to his contemporaries? In either case, his comments touched off a debate around the league. "If she was truly a full-time player ... it would be enormous," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said.
"No way," said Cavaliers forward Anthony Parker, the brother of WNBA star Candace Parker. "My sister is a good player and has great skill, but as far as making an NBA roster? No."
Stern acknowledged that differences in size and strength could make it hard for a woman to hang with the likes of LeBron and Shaq. "[But] a fast person with a good shot?" he said. "There's going to be a very strong woman who has all the moves ... and she's going to be good."