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Hoops Happening: ‘I’ll burn the kitchen down’: Rookie of the Month A’ja Wilson combats haters with humor

Wilson may not be able to make dinner, but she sure cooks on the basketball court. The first-year phenom was just named Rookie of the Month. Plus, where things stand, Players of the Week, Coach of the Month, links and more. This is today in women’s basketball for Tuesday July 3, 2018!

Seattle Storm v Las Vegas Aces
A’ja Wilson: WNBA Rookie of the Month for June 2018
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Save the 30-minute meals for someone else. A’ja Wilson does her cooking* on the basketball court. She slayed the month of June and has been rightly awarded with the Rookie of the Month award.

Wilson’s key moments of the month include:

• June 19 @ Seattle: Career-high 16 boards, 25 points and 6 assists in 89-77 victory over Seattle

• June 27 vs. Dallas: 22 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high 8 assists in 97-91 loss to the Wings. (See a trend here, with these double-doubles?)

• June 29 vs. Los Angeles: 29 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in 94-78 win over the Sparks

Notice the other trend?

Wilson is leading the Aces, behind her double-double goodness, to wins over some of the best teams in basketball. The Storm have two WNBA Championships to their credit, while the Sparks won it all in 2016.

*Scorching the status quo: Kitchen edition

While league decision-makers were tallying stats behind the scenes, preparing to announce Wilson’s Rookie of the Month award, the 6-foot-4 Vegas star found herself embroiled in a battle of a different kind Sunday night on Twitter.

The Guide to Being a Sexist Troll on Twitter apparently had made its way throughout the far reaches of Troll Kingdom. Per troll norms, they jumped quickly to the tired, lazy argument of women belonging in the kitchen. To her credit, Wilson handled the deluge of inanity with humor and grace.

But mixed into the humor are some pretty important truths for anyone with the critical thinking abilities to notice. Since trolls typically lack these abilities and, worse, have no interest in self-improvement due to entrenched self-delusions of greatness, perhaps context-based learning would get the point across.

Would things click in the trolls’ calloused skulls if they were to seek medical attention from a professional who happens to be a woman, and she were to say, Ya know what? I saw what you wrote to those basketball players online. Maybe you’re right about women needing to stay in the kitchen. It’s my lunch time anyway, so ...

And she spins on her heels, headed for the hospital break room, while the injured or ill troll is left to his own pain.

Kayla McBride stepped in to help her teammate.

And, if you visit her timeline or read any of the comments Wilson and McBride received, you’ll discover anger and vitriol and hate speech: misogyny and, yes, sexism, at their lowest, grossest, basest forms.

It’s great that Wilson can laugh it off (at least publicly). But it’s truly no laughing matter. This kind of violence against women — and, yes, a lot of the stuff written by these people is just that: violence — happens against women every day. The attacks on public figures at least are witnessed, which allows people to call it out, report it and denounce the trolls. But what about when it happens to lesser-known women, who don’t have tons of people to come to their defense?

What toll does it take on these women when they have to fight these battles alone?

The host of a radio show said, just yesterday during an episode, “I’m a woman, and I’m a journalist, so I receive threats on Twitter every day.”

Stop it right there.

It has become the violence of the day in the current political climate to go after journalists — the messengers — and to make them the enemy. But this is unacceptable in any climate, political or otherwise. If this is the norm and that is okay with you, it might be a good idea to take some time to reflect upon whether you are civilized, and whether you belong in a society where the majority of the people want civility.

While these trolls work their stuff out (or dig their hairy heels in and refuse to budge), there are things we call can do to put an end to the madness. First, as one commenter mentioned, we should report the trolls for making comments against “specific groups,” which is a violation of Twitter’s conduct guidelines.

Next, men can fulfill a dire need in this society by challenging toxic masculinity — and, thereby, modeling a sane, peaceful form of masculinity that does not have anger, hatred and aggression towards women as its seeds.

If you stay quiet while others are harassed by bullies and trolls, not for their actions but because they were born female or gay or trans or black or Latinx or Muslim or in another country or whatever the case happens, you are complicit.

Thank you, Eric, for being a part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

A man-made Catch-22 =/= fact.

A big part of the attacks against Wilson and McBride Sunday night was men trying to force them to believe that what they do has no value, that they should feel “lucky” they get to play professionally at all (a troll’s actual word), and that they are selfish for wanting more for themselves while others in society have it worse.

An excerpt of my threaded reply (lightly edited):

People will go to the ends of the earth to justify why women deserve less and should accept less without complaint. They will talk around the issue by discussing theories rather than facts — anything but to give women their due. They will talk revenue and lack of fans ...

[But] the FACT is that people follow what they see. If they don’t ever see a WNBA game or player they can’t develop an interest. The FACT is the #NBA needs to use its billions to market the WNBA. Success requires investment and the league has not made a strong enough investment to generate bucks.

The Catch-22 is man-made! It’s not some confusing circumstance.

To those who can’t discuss the issues and, instead, point out that others earn a lot less: [expletive emoji].

[That kind of] thinking is so lazy. If a poor family had to hear their kid cry himself to sleep every night because he’s hungry, it’d be inappropriate to tell the kid’s parents, well other kids are hungrier and [have] even died. That means we’re talking about two hungry kids — which is unacceptable, even if one of those kids had a scoop of rice for dinner while the other had nothing at all.

EVERYONE needs to earn a living wage. With athletes, whose careers are short, they must earn as much as they can in a short amount of time. Everyone needs to get paid fairly in all industries, but especially women. One person getting paid doesn’t mean others can’t or won’t be. Everyone should flourish. So, people need to stop with this limited thinking [that] one person being paid is somehow taking away from them. There’s enough for everyone!

Fixing pay inequality for public figures, like athletes and actresses, [will set] important social trends into motion that have an effect on everyone. All women should want other women to get paid and should cheer for this if they want equal pay too.

For anyone still struggling to grasp the basic point — that if WNBA games are televised, people will develop an interest and the fan base will follow — the the league confirmed as much with a Monday press release about ESPN2 ratings for the Storm-Sparks matchup on Thursday June 28 being the highest “overnight rating” since 2011.

Show the games. People will watch. Stop denying fans.

Most recent game action

Sunday 7/1: Here are the results of the five games that were played. Lynx stayed dominant — pushed win streak to seven.

Saturday 6/30: Mercury got the win but lost Sancho Lyttle for the season. She suffered a non-contact injury that has since been diagnosed as an ACL tear.

Friday 6/29: A lot of teams kept their losing streaks alive.

Where things stand

WNBA All-Star voting is live! Vote for your favorite players.

Next up in the WNBA

On-court action returns today with four games on the schedule, including a Fever-Lynx primetime matchup streaming live on Twitter.

Stay tuned for previews!

Players of the Week

Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics takes the award for the East, while Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx takes it for the West.

Here’s how they did it:

Players who were in the running but did not make the final cut include: the Chicago Sky’s Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot, Dallas’ Liz Cambage, the Indiana Fever’s Victoria Vivians, the Las Vegas Aces’ Kayla McBride and A’ja Wilson, the Los Angeles Sparks’ Chelsea Grayand Candace Parker, Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles, Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi and Seattle’s Breanna Stewart.

Tough competition week in and week out in this league. Congrats to the winners and the candidates!

Coach of the Month

Sandy Brondello, Phoenix Mercury

2014 WNBA Finals - Game Two
Sandy Brondello
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Link lush

The big girl gets things done.

In other news ...

In the kind of news no one ever want to hear, Sancho Lyttle is done for the season after suffering an ACL tear in a non-contact injury in the Mercury’s matchup against the Mystics on Saturday. Lyttle was fourth in scoring for Phoenix, and the team had been relied upon her elite, difference-making intangibles on both ends of the floor — making this a major blow for the Mercury.

Recovering from this type of injury and returning to competition is difficult under the best of circumstances, for younger players. A 13-year vet and age 35, Lyttle may decide it’s time to hang up her basketball shoes.

  • In excellent news for fans far and wide, Moriah Jefferson will begin practicing with the Las Vegas Aces for the first time this season. Due to a nagging knee injury, she has not played in the WNBA since August 12, 2017. Although she is cleared to practice, it is unlikely that she will play.
  • WNBA Champion, MVP and WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike will speak at the inaugural Laureus Summit, presented by ESPN on the 100th birthday of founding patron Nelson Mandela. The event takes place July 18 at LA Live. (Source: Eli Horowitz, LA Sparks)
  • June was righteous. Here’s the photographic evidence, courtesy of the WNBA.
  • Seattle issued a cool mid-season report. We like numbers; numbers are good.
  • The Storm are also working with Swedish partner to refurbish an elementary school basketball court.
  • And, not to be outdone by doing good, Seattle, Alysha Clark will host an upcoming toy drive to benefit Seattle Children’s Hospital.
  • If New York Liberty and/or social media are your jam: Here ya go!
  • LeBron James signed with the Lakers and Odyssey Sims wants his butt in a Staples Center chair during Sparks games. He can bring his wife, Savannah, and their three kids to make it a family fun day!
  • Imani McGee-Stafford, whose two-time NBA champ bro just signed with the Lakers also, is hoping someone has a bandwagon big enough to haul her 6-foot-7 self from the ATL to her hometown of LAX.
  • Victoria Vivians had a big game for Indy over the weekend.
  • On Sunday, Mistie Bass announced that she has a job interview today, and used the hashtag #nextmoveondeck. Bass has some juice left in the tank. Hopefully she get the chance to finish this season with a championship-contending team.
  • After being waived by the New York Liberty and the Las Vegas Aces, Shoni Schimmel has resurfaced. Where ya been? How’s it been going? Maybe she’ll tell us on Thursday July 5. Schimmel is scheduled to do a a Q & A following the Mercury’s matchup against the Sun at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Does this mean what we think and hope it might mean?

Mid-season transactions

Teams have been busy in recent weeks, waiving, releasing and signing players, to sturdy their squads for the second half of the season. Here’s who’s been on the move recently:

The most notable of the signings is Pondexter to the Fever.


With Pondexter in the mix, the Fever most likely will:

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Finish at .500 or above, but not make the playoffs.
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Make the playoffs, no matter their team stats.
    (0 votes)
  • 90%
    Win some games, but not make the playoffs.
    (9 votes)
  • 10%
    Finish the season at 1-33.
    (1 vote)
10 votes total Vote Now

How to #WatchThemWork all season

Shine brighter. * flicker flicker *