WNBA legends Cynthia Cooper-Dyke and Candace Parker have rebuked Shaquille O’Neal for suggesting the WNBA should lower the rim to allow players to dunk more easily as their male counterparts do in the NBA.
Earlier this week, the former Los Angeles Lakers legend suggested that lowering the rim would give the women’s game “more oomph”, a notion Cooper-Dyke swiftly shut down on Thursday.
Appearing on the Legends Live podcast, the four-time WNBA champion and four-time WNBA Finals MVP insisted the women’s game was perfectly fine in its current state and did not need any input from men.
Cooper-Dyke pointed out the NBA hadn’t moved the rim closer to allow O’Neal to improve his free-throw percentage, a thinly-veiled criticism of the four-time NBA champion’s notoriously poor record from the line—O’Neal averaged 52.7 percent throughout his career.
“When do guys get to tell women what is best for our game? We don’t tell guys what’s best for theirs,” she said.
“We didn’t tell guys to bring the rim closer so Shaq could make a free throw. […]
“We didn’t try to alter their game. I believe the women’s game is fine where it is [and] we have already made certain adjustments […]
“I think we play great basketball. The time is coming for women to consistently play over the rim as well.”
On Tuesday, O’Neal suggested lowering the rim would make the men’s and women’s game more equal.
“I have a way to make it equal,” he told Parker, one of his co-panelist on Inside the NBA on TNT.
“So in beach volleyball, the women’s net is maybe half-an-inch lower. You think if we lower the rim so y’all can dunk like we dunk that would give y’all more oomph than you already have?”
Parker is no stranger to dunking. She was the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament and the first woman to dunk twice in the same game at collegiate level, as well as the second woman to dunk in an WNBA game.
Her reaction left no room for interpretation, as she dismissed O’Neal’s suggestion, before predicting women’s players will start dunking soon.
“My next child will be drop-step dunking. I promise you,” the two-time WNBA MVP added.
On Thursday, Cooper-Dyke echoed the sentiment, pointing out that it took decades for dunking to become the widespread practice it is in the NBA now.
“There was only one Wilt Chamberlain, nobody else was dunking” she explained.
“There was one Doctor J [Julius Erving] and one Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] and even Kareem wasn’t dunking, as he had the skyhook. There were skills they used to win championships and they were praised for those skillsets.”
The issue of players dunking in the women’s game has lingered for years, eliciting unwanted comparisons between the WNBA and the NBA. Speaking in 2018, WNBA president Nneka Ogwumike argued “it was not logical” to expect women’s players to dunk like their male counterparts.
“It’s not logical to ask us to do that,” she said. “We’re constantly being compared to men. We have people excelling at a 10-foot rim.
“And now, you want us to lower the rim so we can continuously be compared, only to still be criticized. Because now, you have someone like me who has done what she’s done—now I have to relearn the game to appease people who don’t want to watch it for what it is.”
Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal attends 2019 World Lightweight & World Light Heavy Weight Championships at State Farm Arena on December 28, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. Paras Griffin/Getty Images