Elena Delle Donne talks Rio and the state of the WNBA

Elena Delle Donne talks Rio and the state of the WNBA


Elena Delle Donne appeared with Kevin Durant earlier today to unveil the new USA Basketball jerseys. She also made a live appearance on Sports Illustrated’s Facebook page, showing off the new Nike jerseys and discussing her hopes for the team in Rio this summer.

“The twelve man roster has not been named yet, so we’re still kind of waiting on that,” Delle Donne told reporters. “But I feel like I’ve done everything possible that I could to hopefully make that cut.”

As the 2015 WNBA MVP, it seems like Elena’s spot on Team USA is all but guaranteed. The 6’5″ swingman has definitely earned a spot among the sports top athletes and, if given the opportunity, Elena’s clearly going for the gold

“I feel like, ever since I picked up a basketball, that was the dream and the number one goal for me. That would be like the pinnacle of my career.”

While the roster has yet to be announced, the finalists are an intimidating group of ballplayers. The list includes, among others: Diana Taurasi, Brittney Grinner, Tamika Catchings, Maya Moore, Tina Charles, Candace Parker, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles and 2015’s Rookie Of The Year Jewell Loyd. No matter who ends up playing, it’s sure to be an exciting team.

But this unveiling wasn’t the only major news story surrounding Delle Donne this week. During Nike’s Innovation Summit, she told the press that she would be interested in seeing the WNBA lower the basket so that more athletes could play above the rim. Elena isn’t the first person to make this suggestion. There was an op-ed in The New York Times this summer that made the same argument, and UCONN’s head coach Geno Auriemma has been advocating that position since 2012.

But even this isn’t the most interesting thing Delle Donne’s said this month. Her strongest comments came on March 9, when she sat down with New York Magazine to talk about “the sexist garbage women athletes have to face”.

“I just can’t wait for the day where people want to talk about your skills on the court and not your looks. I wonder how many times a Tom Brady is asked about how handsome he is, or a J.J. Watt,” she said. “It’s something that us female athletes have to deal with all the time.”

“It needs to be talked about because it’s there, but for some reason it’s not really spoken about that much. The men … they do get trolled, but it’s just always following us.”

“I think the best way [to change it] is continuing visibility and getting eyes on our game and the product that we put out there. That’s the biggest way to get people to speak about the game and our talents, instead of always just being like, ‘Oh, a female basketball player … ‘ I’m a basketball player. It’s funny how they always have to add that; they don’t say ‘male basketball player.’ There are certain things in the media that hopefully one day will change.”