Enes Kanter declares NBA must help WNBA players in fight for equality
As part of a recently-written article for TIME, Celtics center Enes Kanter implored his fellow NBA players to help the women of the WNBA in their fight for financial and social equality.
“A dream came true When I was drafted into the NBA a decade ago,” Kanter wrote, via TIME. “I never thought of anything more than putting in my best work and helping my team win. For the talented athletes of the WNBA, it is a different story. After making it professionally, they continue to battle for equitable pay, balanced media portrayal and fair treatment. They have to fight two battles—one on the court, and the other off court.”
Kanter referred to a tweet that was sent out in 2018 by WNBA star A’ja Wilson. As part of her message, Wilson noted that LeBron James’ salary “must be nice.” Her remarks were met with criticism at the time, but Kanter applauded her willingness to speak up.
“I applaud A’ja Wilson’s courage,” the Celtics talent wrote. “Her decision to speak up led to change. But I believe the rest of us, including myself, can do more to show our support for female athletes, so that they can get the respect and fair treatment they deserve. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We cannot walk alone.” The more we all voice our support for women, the more united we will be as people.”
There is a bit of good news on the equality front. In January, the WNBA and its players’ union reached a new collective bargaining agreement, otherwise known as a ‘CBA.” Under the new format, the women of the WNBA will see improved pay and benefits.
Before the CBA, female athletes received less than 30% of revenue-sharing and lost half of their salaries if they went on maternity leave during the season,” the Celtics big noted.
Many women of the WNBA have struggled with finances over the years. In light of this fact, some choose to play overseas in the offseason in an attempt to supplement their incomes — a move that NBA players wouldn’t consider until the twilight of their careers. In China and Russia, for instance, the pay is six to 12 times more than WNBA salaries. And furthermore, the women are often provided room and board while playing overseas.
Hopefully, the new CBA arrangement is only the beginning of the changes that need to be made. Some will argue that the WNBA is simply not as popular as the NBA, thus the players should not be paid the same. While that may be true, the conditions that the women face need to continue improving as the league grows.