A’ja Wilson and Chelsea Gray will play in the 2020 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.
On Wednesday, the NBA announced the rosters for the 2020 All-Star Celebrity Game which will be played on Friday, February 14 at the Chicago Sky’s Wintrust Arena. Chance the Rapper and Common have been named team captains and two WNBA stars — A’ja Wilson and Chelsea Gray — will once again be playing in the game.
WNBA players have featured in every All-Star Celebrity Game since the event’s inception in 2003. Last year, A’ja Wilson played as did the Chicago Sky’s Stefanie Dolson. And Dolson and WNBA champion Candace Parker were included in the event the year before.
But the premise of featuring WNBA players in a meaningless celebrity game alongside random celebrities is disrespectful and only serves to perpetuate the stereotype that WNBA players are less than their male professional athlete counterparts. Is the former Rookie of the Year to be slapped on a roster coached by Guy Fieri?
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Instead of relegating two WNBA players to its arguably least important event of All-Star Weekend, the NBA could properly showcase its investment in women’s basketball by hosting a separate event for the WNBA. A proper WNBA event — perhaps one featuring some of Team USA — at NBA All-Star Weekend would do so much more for the league’s growth, also demonstrating that the NBA really cares about the success of the W.
An alternative solution could be to include WNBA players in the Rising Stars Game, Taco Bells Skill Challenge and the Mountain Dew Three-Point Contest so that they are not merely on the fringes of one event but included in the festivities of the entire weekend.
And then there’s always the option of bringing back the Shooting Stars Challenge, a regular event from 2004 to 2015, which had a current NBA player, a WNBA player and a retired NBA player compete in a shooting content. Imagine Diana Taurasi throwing shots up against the likes of Damian Lillard and Ray Allen.
While the NBA has chosen to start off the decade by continuing to downplay the women’s game, it can make a much stronger impact on the sport by altering its All-Star Weekend to make a meaningful place for some of the W’s most skilled players.
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