An earlier version of this story incorrectly credited many of the arguments against lowering the rim to Diana Taurasi. They were the ideas of ESPN’s Kate Fagan.
A debate over lowering the height of the rim in women’s hoops has one of the stars of the game fuming over the language used to counter her proposal.
Elena Delle Donne said she’s frustrated with how Diana Taurasi, one of the most recognizable faces in the women’s game, worded her rebuttal to the reigning WNBA MVP’s idea to lower the rims because “it would bring a whole different aspect to the game and bring viewership as well and show the athleticism of our women.”
“We do every single thing on that court that the men do, other than the dunking,” Delle Donne said when she discussed her proposal earlier this month. “And, obviously, there is a handful of athletes who can dunk…”
Taurasi, in an interview with ESPN this week, quipped if the sport went through with lowering the rim, they “might as well put us in skirts and back in the kitchen.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Delle Donne fired back, saying it is statements that imply lowering the rim would be like sending women back to the kitchen that set back the sport.
“I respect Diana so much, I think what she’s done for our game is phenomenal,” she said. “But I definitely disagree with what she said. The biggest issue I have with what she said is how degrading that is to women athletes in general because when you look at sports — men’s and women’s sports — volleyball, the nets are lower; golf, women’s tees are closer. And if you want to talk about Serena Williams, she plays less sets than the men so are you going to tell her to put a skirt on and go back to the kitchen?”
The idea of lowering the rim has been discussed for years in women’s basketball. Delle Donne’s push of the idea comes as the WNBA approaches the start of its 20th anniversary and is looking to expand its popularity with a new league president, new uniforms and marketing initiatives.
Delle Donne said she also disagreed with concerns from ESPN’s Kate Fagan that lowering the rim would make logistics more difficult for female players at all levels of the game.
“I messed around with it, there’s a rim at my parents’ house that I lowered to 9 feet and 9 and a half feet and I was able to adjust within probably 20 shots,” she said. “And I feel like when you’re a basketball player you can adjust to different things and I actually think shooting percentage would go up immensely if you lowered the rim.”
The timing of Taurasi’s quip, which comes as UConn is having to defend winning in a dominant fashion, was also frustrating to Delle Donne.
“For Diana to say something like ‘put your skirts on and go back to the kitchen’, that’s tweets we read every day of what people say to us when we’re just trying to play our sport,” she said. “That’s what’s frustrating about it. It’s a time to empower women athletes, not to bring them down.”