Miami Heat’s Shane Battier says ‘there will be a woman NBA player’

Miami Heat small forward Shane Battier (31) dribbles during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half at American Airlines Arena. (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Miami Heat small forward Shane Battier (31) dribbles during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half at American Airlines Arena. (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

There is very little doubt that now-former Baylor All-American Brittney Griner is the best female basketball player college basketball has ever seen.

Now that her illustrious four year career has wound down, a new, intriguing question has arisen: Could Griner, who stands in at 6-foot-8, more than 200 pounds and wears a men’s size 17 or 18 shoe, compete against the fellas in the NBA instead of heading to the WNBA?

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban only stoked the flames of this fire when he told reporters that he would have no trouble drafting Griner if she was the best player on the board.

To which Griner responded that she could hold her own.

Most folks out there might have scoffed at this notion, but do not count the Miami Heat’s Shane Battier among them. The forward won a title while at Duke and is seen as one of the brightest minds in the game today.

When asked to give his two cents, he was not sure if Griner would be the one, but he definitely sees a woman NBA player in the not-too-distant future.

“There’s no doubt that in our lifetime, there will be a woman NBA player,” Battier told ESPN.com after Thursday’s Heat practice at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“I don’t know if it’s Griner or if it’s someone who is 5 years old right now,” Battier said. “But we’ll see it. It’ll happen in our lifetime. Just the law of averages.”

Interestingly, Battier does not necessarily believe the female has to be tall. Rather, what it important is how athletically gifted the player is. He used his own teammate, LeBron James, as an example.

“I don’t think it would be out of the realm of possibility that [one day] we’ll see a female LeBron,” Battier said. “You could be the most skilled player in the world that the women’s game has ever seen, but that won’t cut it in the NBA. She’d have to be a physical specimen.”

Griner is, without question, the closest we have seen to that in the women’s game thus far. Her 3,283 points are the second-most all-time and her 748 blocks are the most of any player, male or female, period.

However, while it may not wind up being Griner, the fact that she is even in this conversation is a huge step in terms of respect for women’s sports and female athletes.

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