Supposedly, the NBA cares – according to their campaign, that is. But they obviously don’t care too much.
I stopped by the “jam session” today at the NBA All-Star Weekend shindig at the LA Convention Center. I went right to the WNBA area to cover an event. On hand were Tamika Catchings, Candice Wiggins, Alana Beard and Swin Cash. The male emcee was going around to each player to interview her in front of the crowd while kids in their respective “stations” exercised. I approached just as he got to Beard.
“So,” – he said as a lead-in statement – “you went to Stanford.”
Several people in the crowd groaned, as Beard had that look on her face that people do when they’re shocked but are smiling anyway. She said something to him that was inaudible to us, and he said, “Duke!” Beard put her arms up over her head, fists clenched, as emcee dude added, “how many Duke fans in the audience?”
It’s well-known that media regularly send reporters to cover and write about women’s basketball that have little to no knowledge about it. But the creators of the WNBA? They can’t even get one person who knows four of the biggest players in the league to do on-spot interviews for 15 minutes? That’s pathetic.
When Alana Beard was in college, she was one of my top three favorite players. I used to love to watch her do her thing, and I regard her “almosts” at the two Final Fours of her college years with wistfulness. She came so close.
I was at World Gym the night her college career ended, in 2004. I had stopped my workout and stood staring at the TV with a couple other male diehard hoopaholic friends of mine. As the game ticked to a close and it was obvious the Blue Devils were going to lose again, Gail Goestenkors took her star out. Beard did something I’d never seen her do, which was to walk up the sideline to her coach and start crying on her shoulder. Goestenkors stopped coaching and wrapped her up in a hug. It was unnerving, but I was glad Beard got it out.
It’s too bad the male emcee today was ignorant of all of that. He probably doesn’t know about the Mystics star guard/forward’s recent Achilles tendon injury, either.
The NBA should have let me, or someone else who has knowledge of women’s basketball, do the honors today. They could have saved themselves from looking uncaring and stupid.