I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a fan of women’s basketball — have been for a long while.
I vaguely remember the 1994 UNC women’s championship team, although Charlotte Smith’s name stuck out to me like a beer gut. (Yes Marion Jones was on that team as well but was obviously overshadowed by probably one of the best women’s player to wear the Carolina blue.) Without research, I couldn’t tell you which programs won the title when but names such as Rebecca Lobo (UConn) and Nikki McCray (Tennessee) carried the early-90s.
And speaking of the Lady Vols, remember when Chamique Holdsclaw was suppose to be to the women’s game as Michael Jordan was to the men? The WNBA had just come into existence her sophomore season in 1996, the same year that she was THE piece that propelled Tennessee to three consecutive national championships, including a 39-0 mark in ’98 that was just recently broken (will get to that in a moment). Holdsclaw, the two-time Naismith Award winner. Holdsclaw, the six-time WNBA All-Star and one time scoring champion.
Holdsclaw, the one who faded away like old memories and was replaced in our conscious by Candace Parker, ironically another one of Pat Summitt’s players. Parker and her dunks were suppose to “revolutionize” the women’s game but the quantum leap truly didn’t manifest itself until Brittney came along.
Griner — the 6-8 high school phenom from Houston that can dunk, not dunk but dunk a basketball. Instead of going to the more prominent, women basketball enriched hotbeds such as Connecticut or Tennessee with Geno Auriemma or Summitt, she chose Baylor and Kim Mulkey. Griner, who almost instantly made Baylor the powerhouse program of the nation. Griner, whose growth as a player made her one of the most unstoppable forces in college basketball history.
Not just women college basketball history — college basketball history. Griner’s 33 points and 22 rebounds in a NCAA Tournament game against Florida State on March 26 had only been matched by five other men. She ranks second on the all-time scoring list for women (3,283), she is the all-time leader in blocks among both genders (748) and led Baylor to the only 40-0 season in the history of the N.C. two A in 2012. (Her 18 dunks isn’t important in this context.)
It was Griner’s evolution that transformed women’s basketball and brought out the good in sports and the cruelty of fans who’s voices and tweets were meant to discredit the revolution, as written by espnW.com columnist Kate Fagan.
I’m too young to have seen a lot of the great women players who came before Griner. I may personally feel that Cheryl Miller could be the greatest women’s basketball player ever but I was just a baby during Miller’s career at Southern California so I never saw her. But in my opinion, Griner is the greatest — if not, she’s the most dominate collegiate player we’ve seen since Wilt Chamberlain and may never see again. And although Baylor’s bid for a repeat fell one-point short on Easter Sunday, ending the collegiate career of Griner, we shouldn’t she tears about the ending.
More is yet to come.
You can follow Griner on twitter at @Brittney4Griner