Former WNBA player Candace Wiggins created shockwaves in a recent interview when she said 98% of the women in the WNBA are gay and she was bullied for being straight. The WNBA itself declined to comment “for now,” but other players came out and disagreed with Wiggins’ claims.
“I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience didn’t lend itself to my mental state,” Wiggins told the San Diego Tribune. “It was a depressing state in the WNBA. It’s not watched. Our value is diminished. It can be quite hard. I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me. … My spirit was being broken.”
“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins said. “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules they (the other players) could apply.
“There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we’re all fighting for crumbs,” Wiggins said. “The way I looked, the way I played – those things contributed to the tension.
“People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time. I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’ “
DeLisha Milton-Jones, who won two WNBA titles and appeared in more games than any player in league history, said she was baffled by Wiggins’ remarks.
“I know Candice as a sweet, intelligent young lady,” said Milton-Jones, who now is an assistant coach at Pepperdine. “I don’t want to take anything from her experiences while in the league, so I can only speak for what I experienced firsthand. And it’s in complete contradiction of what’s been stated by Candice.
“The WNBA has allowed many of us to live a dream. I pray that Candice does find peace with her life and is able to move forward without devaluing or diminishing what’s been priceless to so many others in the league.”
Monique Currie, an 11-year WNBA veteran now with San Antonio, wrote a blog in which she expressed concern for Wiggins but also called on her for accountability in making public, broad-based accusations without much context or explanation of whether she tried to change or impact the treatment of players in the league.
“I’ve never witnessed the kind of bullying Wiggins describes in her interview,” Currie wrote. “This does not mean it did not happen, but I’m proud to be a part of a league that supports inclusion and celebrates all players, regardless of their race, religion, or sexuality. We are a family made up of players that love and respect the game of basketball.”
And Chicago center Imani Boyette, a WNBA rookie last season who grew up admiring Wiggins, wrote in a blog addressed to Wiggins:
“There is literally a woman from every walk of life in the league, which is why I love it so much. I have never experienced the bullying you spoke about, and I hope no one else ever does.”
Wiggins declined to discuss her remarks with ESPN but says she hopes to publish a memoir about her experiences.