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NBA challenges WNBA salary reports via Sunday night tweet

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While the rest of society was watching Game of Thrones or the NBA Playoffs Sunday night, NBA public relations tweeted about WNBA compensation.

2019 NBA All Star Commissioner’s Media Availability
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

While the rest of society was watching Game of Thrones or the NBA Playoffs on Sunday night, NBA public relations tweeted about WNBA compensation.

In a tweet to its locked NBA PR Twitter account, the league stated:

There has recently been inaccurate information reported in the media regarding WNBA pay. In accordance with the CBA, the average compensation for WNBA players last season was $116,000. The top-paid player’s compensation was more than $187,000.

The statement has raised eyebrows for several reasons, including:

  1. the strange, Sunday night timing; and
  2. a failure to identify the specific media reports under dispute.

Reigning WNBA champion, league MVP and Finals MVP Breanna Stewart was one of many to take issue with the statement. Although Stewart did not elaborate beyond a single, exasperated question — “Oh...so this is what we are doing now??” — the tweet obviously did not sit well with her.

Of all players, Stewart (and Victoria Vivians) are entitled to outrage given that they suffered season-ending injuries while competing overseas during the WNBA offseason. With higher WNBA salaries, they would not need to compete abroad.

Furthermore, it would behoove fans not to accept these numbers at face value.

Compensation differs from salary and can include things like housing, car leases and other expenses. Salary, however, is payment for services rendered. With the outstanding expenses removed, what are players’ salaries?

By employing what appears to be a deceptive spin strategy, the NBA has raised suspicions about its motives for doing so. What other purpose is there for releasing the statement than to divert attention from the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations and/or to mislead the public about players’ salaries in preparation for refusing the Women’s National Basketball Players’ Association’s CBA demands?

Perhaps a growing backlash from fans, WNBA players and WNBA media will inspire the NBA to issue a clear statement on players’ salaries rather than obfuscating matters behind wordplay.

Before reporting on this story, I spoke with a WNBPA representative who said the players’ association does not wish to issue a statement at this time.