The Phoenix Mercury made franchise history — and damn near made WNBA history — with a 16-game winning streak this season (it was the league's second-longest ever). And the team went on to dominate the WNBA playoffs and with its third title. Second-year phenom Brittney Griner was a large part of why. At 6-foot-8, she's the tallest player in the WNBA (she fits into a men's size-17 shoe). And she's got game! At Baylor University in Texas, she scored 2,000 points and blocked 500 shots — the first in the NCAA ever to do so. And after a rookie professional season marred by injury, she's infused her might into the pro ranks. At 23, she leads the league in blocked shots, is eighth in scoring, and is ninth in rebounding: she's averaged four blocks, 16 points, and eight rebounds per game. She's made dunking —the aspect of the men's game that's made it mega-popular — de rigueur. But it's not all about her size. She's smart, a good ball handler, and possesses mercurial moves.
The league wishes it could clone her star power. Because if it could, it could put a lot more fannies in the seats. In this fantasy world, the Mercury could afford to pay Griner a lot more than the about 50 grand a season it signed her for as the first overall pick in the league draft. In this world, women wouldn't be forced to play in places like China (in Griner's case), where teams are willing to pay them millions of bucks a season to capitalize on their talent. Compare what women make in the WNBA to the minimum NBA rookie salary (paid to scrubs who barely play): $911,400. An NBA rookie of Griner's statue would command $4.5 million annually. Unfortunately, a Brittney Griner comes along once in a lifetime.