Just days after the Kentucky men’s basketball team won their title, the talk has turned to head coach John Calipari bolting to the NBA. Calipari has spurned the talk and said he has the best job in the country and he’s not leaving. But that doesn’t keep people from bringing this subject up.
Just minutes after the Baylor Lady Bears women’s basketball team cut down some nets of their own, the talk was already swirling – yet again – about the potential of Baylor’s phenomenal center Brittney Griner leaving college early and heading for the professional ranks herself.
Actually, the discussion on Griner opting out of her senior year has been fast and furious for the last few weeks and months, despite head coach Kim Mulkey and Griner herself making firm statements that all but sign her name in blood that she will be returning to college.
As soon as people figured out that Griner might be eligible to leave early and apply to enter the WNBA draft, media has been atwitter with the possibility. Mulkey gave an interview at the Big 12 Championships disputing that this was indeed even a viable scenario, shooting down the “Griner to the W” talk quite succinctly or so I thought.
“But maybe if they win it all, she’ll change her mind,” people still said. “Does she know how much money she’s sacrificing just to get a college education?” others chimed in.
Yes she knows. She doesn’t care. And no she’s not changing her mind about turning pro early.
Jeré Longman wrote a piece for the New York Times on the eve of the national title game, “Senior Season Awaits, But At A Potential Cost“. In the article, Longman got Griner to reaffirm her stance on staying despite missing out on an early windfall.
“Everybody tells me I can make millions, but money isn’t everything,” Griner, a junior, said Monday. “Money doesn’t buy happiness. And I made a commitment. When I make a commitment, I keep my word. And these are your best years, in college. I’m just trying to have my full experience. It was never tempting. I never really even had to think or debate about it.”
She says she wasn’t tempted to leave. Then why are people still asking about it after the game championship game in which she dominated?
Just in case she didn’t have fun cutting down the nets and going undefeated for the best record ever in college basketball, men or women. Just in case the junior who’s team is returning nearly everyone doesn’t want to do this again next year in New Orleans in front of Mulkey’s ‘home crowd’ to try to do it again. Just in case she’s decided that getting a degree as a female athlete is not all that important. Just in case.
“You all keep trying as best you can to encourage Brittney to leave,” Mulkey said from the podium. “That’s not happening either. Where is Jeré with the New York Times? His article, I loved it, but that’s not happening. She’s not going anywhere. She’ll be worth the same millions next year as she’s worth this year.”
Later in that same press conference, another reporter commented on how the powers that be in Los Angeles might be unhappy with the news that Griner will not be a potential No. 1 pick for the Sparks this season. This statement was then followed up with asking Mulkey to confirm yet again, that Griner staying in school could be taken “to the bank”.
Well, folks. Get in line at your nearest branch because Mulkey closed out her comments with another adamant statement about the matter, and I suspect one that might actually get people to stop asking the new national champs about the 2012 WNBA season including the 2012 tournament Most Outstanding Player.
“No, she’s not going anywhere. I don’t know what part of that y’all don’t understand,” Mulkey said. [Please note, this is when I started chuckling – silently, of course.] “She’s not going anywhere. She is not even going to be able to go do a lot of things because she wants to graduate in four years. She wants to get her degree. And Brittney Griner is not going anywhere.
“She said it, I’ve said it. I don’t know what else we can say. She’s not going anywhere. This kid is – she’s a jewel. She enjoys Baylor. Come see her. Watch her longboard across campus, paint her body at a football game. Watch her do cartwheels and roll down the halls. [Please note, this is when I started imagining a skater chick, painted in green and gold body paint, doing cartwheels down the hallway. Also while silently chuckling.]
“She’s a kid. She enjoys her college life. She knows she’s going to make money someday. She’s not in a hurry to go into that crude, rude, crazy real world. She likes her little comfort there in Waco, Texas.”
[Please note, this is when I started shaking my head in agreement.]
Why should she be in a hurry to go into a ‘crude, rude, crazy real world’? Besides, I know that this season’s slogan was “Unfinished Business”, but you better believe the catchphrase of 2013 will be something about repeating as national champions. And that might be yet another thing that I just might consider lining up at the bank for now. Or soon, anyway.