It isn’t often that a former WNBA player would take public shots at the league she once represented. The league already receives a lot of negative connotations from outside critics, so it’s rare for one it's own to do the same.
Candice Wiggins changed that narrative.
She recently stated in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, her reality in the league was not like many would have perceived.
“It wasn’t like my dreams came true in the WNBA. It was quite the opposite. I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience 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,” she stated in the interview.
After eight years in the league, Wiggins abruptly declared she was retiring, a move that caught many by surprise. However, Wiggins also stated in her interview with the San Diego Union-Tribute, that she dealt with being bullied in the league as a heterosexual woman, which contributed in her walking away from playing in the WNBA.
“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins stated. “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. 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. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’”
Wiggins later went on to say the players in the WNBA were “compared so much to men,” that players shifted to also “mirror the men” in how they carried themselves.
“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.”
Even with the scrutiny of the WNBA, Wiggins did tell the San Diego Union-Tribune her personal reflections are just that: her thoughts on her experience.
“I want you to understand this: There are no enemies in my life. Everyone is forgiven. At the end of the day, it made me stronger. If I had not had this experience, I wouldn’t be as tough as I am. I try to be really sensitive. I’m not trying to crush anyone’s dreams or aspirations, or the dreams of the WNBA. I want things to be great, but at the same time it’s important for me to be honest in my reflections.”