Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, are commonly found courtside these days at big NBA games and the legend believes there are WNBA players who could take the court there, too.
Bryant: Taurasi, Delle Donne, Moore could play in NBA
Bryant was asked by CNN if there “may one day be a future” for his 13-year-old daughter in the NBA. Gianna has already garnered attention for plays reminiscent of her father’s. His answer focused on who could step in now, via CNN:
"I think there are a couple of players who could play in the NBA right now honestly. There's a lot of players with a lot of skill that could do it.”
"Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Elena Delle Donne. There's a lot of great players out there so they could certainly keep up with them," he said.
Taurasi, Moore and Delle Donne are some of the best and most decorated players in USA Basketball and WNBA history. Taurasi, 37, has won four Olympic gold medals and is the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer. She’s won three championships with the Phoenix Mercury and three with UConn. Taurasi is currently with the national team, which will play the Huskies on Monday.
Moore, 30, won four WNBA titles with the Minnesota Lynx and was named league MVP in 2014 as well as Finals MVP in 2013. She was on the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medal teams. Moore, a UConn grad, took last season off to focus on social justice work and is waiting to decide if she’ll return to basketball.
Delle Donne, 30, is fresh off her first WNBA title with the Washington Mystics. She became the first WNBA player to join the exclusive 50/40/90 club that includes Steve Nash, Larry Bird and Stephen Curry. Delle Donne, who started her collegiate career at UConn and later starred back home at Delaware, was on the 2016 Olympic gold medal team. She’s currently rehabbing her back — she played the finals with three herniated discs —and has not participated in Team USA games.
Women in the NBA
If women can play with men in the NBA is a question that appears every so often. The late Donald Stern predicted a woman in the NBA within the decade. That was in 2009.
Lindsey Harding, a Philadephia 76ers assistant, said, “Why not?” when asked and also named Taurasi. The 15-year-veteran has also been asked the question almost constantly over the years. From ESPN in 2011, Taurasi said:
"If you could put me in a machine that could make me 6-foot-5 and as strong as they were, I could play in the NBA," Taurasi said. "When you talk about how physically superior they are. ... I can't help it. [Sue Bird] can't help it. Skill-wise, knowing the game, there's no difference between men and women ... it would be really hard. It's a long shot."
The other question is why it has to be a question at all. The WNBA is a league of its own with some of the best basketball players in the world — see Taurasi, Moore, Delle Donne, Bird, Breanna Stewart — and is growing. The latest collective bargaining agreement will only help that.
Bryant, a five-time champion in 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, has spoken about his love of the WNBA before and his daughter’s excitement over the stars. For what it’s worth, Bryant said Gianna wants to attend UConn.
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