Back in 2015, Candice Wiggins had nothing but good things to say about a Pride Night hosted by the WNBA’s Chicago Sky.
“Taking this stance, it is really nice,” Wiggins, then playing for the New York Liberty, told ESPNW’s Mechelle Voepel. “It’s good to open up the conversation, to get people more comfortable with things that maybe before they didn’t identify with. I was just talking about it to one of my teammates: ‘What if the NBA got into having a Pride Night? I wonder what it would be like.’ But I think we’re setting a great example.”
Wiggins retired after that 2015 season, and her stance since then appears to have changed considerably, both about the league’s sexual politics and about the WNBA as a whole. In comments made to the San Diego Union-Tribune, she now claims that she was bullied throughout her career for being heterosexual:
“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.’ “
Putting aside skepticism about Wiggins’s assertion that all but a handful of the WNBA’s players are homosexual — with 12 active players on each of the 12 teams, a 98 percent rate would leave about three straight players total — the former No. 3 overall draft pick in 2008 out of Stanford also had blunt things to say about the league’s general prospects.
“Nobody cares about the WNBA. Viewership is minimal. Ticket sales are very low. They give away tickets and people don’t come to the game,” she said, comparing her struggles stateside with her “incredible” experience playing in Europe, where salaries for women’s basketball players are much higher.
Wiggins is working on her autobiography based on journals she kept during her WNBA career, the Union-Tribune reports, and will be inducted into a San Diego-area sports hall of fame Tuesday. (The daughter of former Padres player Alan Wiggins, she played high school basketball in the area.) One has to think this won’t be the last time we hear from her.