Candice Wiggins is one of the most successful women’s basketball players in recent memory.
She was an All-American at Stanford, and was star in the WNBA, in overseas leagues and while representing the United States in international competitions.
But Wiggins told the San Diego Union-Tribune that her time in the WNBA was “very harmful.” She said other players in the league were jealous of her popularity and she was harassed for being heterosexual.
“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins told the Union-Tribune. “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.
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“There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we’re all fighting for crumbs. 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.’ ”
As noted in the Union-Tribune story, the WNBA doesn’t keep records on players’ sexual orientation.
Wiggins previously penned an essay for The Players’ Tribune about her retirement (which was last March), but she made no mention of the bullying.
However, Wiggins did write about how women’s players must play overseas during the off-season to supplement their WNBA pay, and that it was a grind. Injuries took a toll on Wiggins, who ruptured her Achilles’ tendon in 2010.
Wiggins talked about the league’s struggles in the Union-Tribune story.
“It was a depressing state in the WNBA,” she said. “It’s not watched. Our value is diminished. It can be quite hard. I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me. … My spirit was being broken.”