The WNBA opening weekend featured six great games and set a new record for viewership. The game between the Sparks and Mercury was the most watched season opener since 2012 with an average of 540,000 viewers, which is a 20% increase from the 2019 season opener. The success of the viewership resulted in ESPN committing to broadcast an additional 13 WNBA games across its network. Unfortunately, the success still doesn’t seem to be enough for the WNBA players to get the respect they deserve.
The WNBA Champions, Washington Mystics, started their season with a record of 2-0, and have caught the attention of basketball fans from all over. The Mystics beat the Sun 94-89 on Tuesday night in a rematch of the 2019 Finals.
Aerial Powers, who was the 5th overall draft pick in 2016, exploded in the second half finishing with a career-high 27 points to lead the Mystics. Her outstanding performance was noticed by Miami Heat’s Andre Iguodala, but wasn’t worthy enough for him to acknowledge her by name.
Powers career night quickly turned from celebration to anger, following a tweet from Iguodala. While he thought his tweet of “number 23 from the mystic is nice!!!” was a compliment, Powers didn’t hesitate to let him know she didn’t appreciate his disrespect.
Rightfully so, Powers took offense to his tweet and responded by tweeting, “Put some respect on my name or keep this tweet to yourself!!”
Even after receiving backlash for his tweet Iguodala still choose to take shots at Powers by tweeting, “no manners”. That tweet was followed by a tweet from Powers, “we deal with disrespect on the daily so for someone like you Andre to tweet that off the same device u could have looked me up on is unacceptable. Mind you commentator said my name. Would it have been the same if I was a guy?”
This latest exchange is an example of how hard it’s been for many WNBA players to get their respect, even from their supposed peers in the NBA. While it may not get the same coverage on television, there is no denying that WNBA athletes are exceptional at what they do.
It saddens me that so many people don’t understand why Powers felt Iguodala’s tweet was so disrespectful to her. I find it hard to believe that not once while he was watching the game, that he didn’t hear the commentator repeatedly say her name as she scored her 27 points. Not only that, her name is on the back of her jersey. Which she takes great pride in representing, just like Iguodala takes pride in representing his name. How would he feel if the media butchered his name and just referred to him as a number?
The WNBA is dedicating this season to their fight for social justice and equality and Iguodala’s actions just amplifies the WNBA message. Women all around the world are fighting for equality and just want the same recognition, visibility and opportunity as men. The WNBA players deserve just as much respect as the NBA players, and Iguodala had an opportunity to change the narrative and he failed.
Iguodala refused to allow his mistake to be a teachable moment to help bring solutions to a never ending fight for women’s equality. He could have tweeted Aerial Powers name to his millions of followers and brought positive attention to the WNBA. Appreciate her game by acknowledging her by name, if you think her game is so great which clearly he does.
The biggest advocate of the WNBA was none other than Kobe Bryant, who did everything possible to make sure WNBA players got their due respect. However, there are still some sexist attitudes towards the league and every day the players are fighting to be taken seriously.
Say her name! Aerial Power a Professional Athlete, a WNBA Champion, a Member of the WNBA All-Rookie Team, a Three-time First Team Big-Ten member, and the All-time leading scorer for Michigan State University.
Put some respect on her name!