All season long, Instagram accounts such as LeagueFits and WSlam have captured WNBA players’ outfits upon entering arenas in preparation for games. One particular shirt that Los Angeles Sparks guard Marina Mabrey wore into the Staples Center, uploaded in a picture to Instagram on July 8th, caught many eyes across the league and its followers.
In large black and yellow letters and beneath Mabrey’s full name, the shirt reads, “THIS IS MY KITCHEN.” Mabrey told High Post Hoops after Saturday’s Sparks-Liberty game that her idea for conceiving the clothing dated back to a tweet she published in 2018, after her Notre Dame Fighting Irish captured a national championship over Mississippi State.
“To all the male women’s basketball haters, y’all can get in the kitchen and make us a sandwich now, thanks,” Mabrey tweeted.
The shirt, which comes in Unisex and Female styles as well as a hooded sweatshirt, features a grey basketball court overlaying a black background. Mabrey’s name lies at the top of the court, while the four-word statement is printed over the middle. Represent, a merchandising company that encourages potential customers to “show what you stand for,” assisted with the final logo.
“I gave [Represent] the idea, I told them what I wanted out of it, and we did a couple runs with what the shirt could look like, and I picked one,” Mabrey said to High Post Hoops.
Mabrey created the shirt and the underlying message in response to the sexist online comments and reactions to posts concerning women’s basketball. With more players’ outfits published on the internet for eyes to see, more attention reaches movements that athletes elect to promote.
Although it’s a small portion of their overall content, mainstream sports channels will occasionally highlight WNBA happenings — for example, Bleacher Report posted on Instagram on July 11 about the captains and starters for the 2019 All-Star game. The comment with the most likes, which is the one most immediately available for users to see per Instagram’s algorithm, says “Nothing beats a cookout with all-star chefs.”
“It’s just plain disrespectful. I think a lot of people are angry because women’s basketball is coming up, and they don’t like the fact that women can be powerful just like men can be,” Mabrey told the Asbury Park Press.
Players in the WNBA, Mabrey in particular, notice the tendency of men and people with general disdain for women’s sports to invoke the sexist notion that they belong in a profession or overall role related to cooking.
“Whoever needs to say something, they don’t.”
Just a rookie in the WNBA, Mabrey has shot the ball with limited efficiency thus far — just 32% overall and 27% from three-point range. But she has contributed impressive defense, with a 2.6 steal percentage in her 14.3 minutes per game on the floor — 22nd in the league, and first among rookies. Despite having limited experience in the league, Mabrey continues the trend of players speaking out on issues pertinent to themselves and their fellow athletes across the WNBA.
“Regardless of if you’re a rookie or a 10 to 15 year vet, you should have confidence that you belong here and that you’re a pro,” she said. “I have a voice and a platform.”
Many NBA counterparts have taken notice of the clothing line and movement and publicly praised it, including Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma. Notable NBA stars have made appearance at WNBA games this year — Lebron James, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook at an Aces game, Rudy Gobert at a Sparks game, and even Commissioner Adam Silver at a recent Liberty game.
“The NBA appreciates the WNBA, they’re always at the games and watching, we watch them,” Mabrey said. “It’s just that they appreciate the game of basketball, and they respect the game. When you respect the game, you watch women’s and men’s basketball.”
Most importantly, her teammates have expressed their support for Mabrey’s campaign, with fellow rookie Kalani Brown posting an alternate design with the same “THIS IS MY KITCHEN” featured in the middle. Her teammate who also serves as the president of the WNBA Players Union, Nneka Ogwumike, has admired the way Mabrey has responded to the common pattern of meritless trash talk.
“[Mabrey’s] doing an amazing job of transforming troll behavior,” Ogwumike said, “[I’m happy] a rookie is establishing herself in that way.”
Derek Fisher will continue to rely on Mabrey’s bold nature to translate to her defense and elevate her offense on the court as her team labors through numerous injuries, most notably to former MVP Candace Parker. Prior to dropping a close contest in New York on Saturday, the Sparks had won three straight. Look for Mabrey to consistently eclipse her season minutes average while other players gradually return to Los Angeles’ lineup.
In addition, look for other WNBA players to use increased exposure to their fashion choices and pre-game outfits as opportunities to support charitable and personal causes and passions.
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