-Welcome to the show.
-Thank you. This is so fun, especially
having a woman president -on the show. This is nice.
-Oh, gosh. I hope this is a predictor
of the future. Welcome. -(laughs) Thank you.
-(cheering and applause) I-I don’t even know where
to start in your world b-because of how many
achievements you just have, you know, in your résumé. Let’s start with your journey
as a player. -Okay. -You know, you are one
of the most accomplished players that we’ve ever seen
in the game of basketball. Magic Johnson said that he
watches you play, and he goes, you’re one of the smartest
players on and off the court. He actually said you-you…
you are like a combination of Magic Johnson
and LeBron James. I appreciate that. -That-that is… That is
really high praise. -(laughs) -You’ve dominated.
-(cheering and applause) You’ve dominated
for such a long time. What’s interesting is
your sister plays in the team with you. -She does.
-She’s also amazing. -Yeah. -And then you have
a younger sister who has been predicted
to also be coming into the W… What are they feeding you
in your family? (laughs)
If you must know, we’re Nigerian,
so we eat a lot of egusi soup. Ah, that’s what it is. -Yeah. (laughs)
-That’s what it is. But is, like, is there something
in your family where, like… Like, how do you…
how do you have so many great basketball players
in the family? I don’t know. I-I really couldn’t tell you. You know,
we just kind of grew up -knowing what excellence was.
-Right. Um, in our culture, it’s just
the staple and the standard. -Yes.
-And so, to be honest, like, if I was playing
another sport, I would have found a way
to be excellent in that. -Right. -And it just so happened
that we all play basketball. Um, but not only that.
You know, we had the opportunity to play basketball
at Stanford University between me and my sister, and then my youngest two sisters
play at Rice. And it’s just in the blood,
you know? -Yeah. -It’s interesting
that you-you’ve been playing for so long, and the WNBA
is so young as a league. So when-when
you started off playing, there wasn’t even an idea
of a possible future. I mean, the-the WNBA
has been growing exponentially, but it’s still…
W-Was that ever an idea? Did you think, “Oh, I’m gonna be
playing professionally”? Or were you just doing this
for fun? I’m not gonna lie, Trevor.
I didn’t think I was gonna play professionally
till I was, like, -halfway through my senior year
of college. -Wow. Um, and I think
that is attributed just to how we were raised
but also not being… Kind of being ignorant
to the opportunities -for women in sports.
-Right. And for me to look back
and understand how much I’ve grown
in my intellect about that and being able to educate people
about that and also affect change
in this current CBA, I feel like I found my legacy. -It’s kind of cool. Yeah.
-That’s really amazing. -(cheering and applause)
-That really is amazing. But the W… the WNBA is-is truly one
of the most interesting stories, because here you have
this league that keeps on growing
year on year. You know, it does…
it does better and better. It makes more and more money, and-and yet there are so many
complicated stories within it. You-you have amazing women
who are athletes who play in this league. Um, most of them, I’ve-I’ve
heard, have college degrees. -Almost everyone.
-Like– Almost everyone? -Yeah, yeah. -That’s-that’s
special on its own. -That’s very special.
-You have business owners. You have entrepreneurs. But then, because of the pay
structures in the league, most of the women have
to go overseas to earn– and-and correct me
if it’s wrong– but more money
from other countries playing -in a basketball league.
-We have a 12-month season. -Right. -And that is to–
That gives us an opportunity to earn… (quietly):
up to ten times more than… -I’m sorry, what? Up…
-Up to ten times more overseas. What do you mean, up to te–
Up to ten times more where? Compared to what we make here. You get paid ten times more
outside of America? There-there are players that do. Um, and so we wanted
to make sure that… But, like, what c–
which countries are these? (laughs) I mean, Russia’s one. -(chuckling)
-(gasping) -Wait. Russia? So Russia is paying some of the women up
to ten times more -what they make in America?
-Yeah. Yes. -Wow.
-Yeah. Yeah. I-I never thought
I would be saying to ladies, -“Go to Russia.”
-(laughs) But-but that’s what–
So-so, players in the WNBA have h– have had
to make this choice, where it’s like you play
the entire year just to basically sustain
yourself as a basketball player. Yeah. And, you know, it kind of
was reflected in our CBA now. We wanted to kind of– You know, we-we didn’t want
to make it a-an obligation. We wanted to create
more disparity in the choices. -Mm-hmm. -Um, so now, with
what we hopefully catalyzed in this current
collective bargaining agreement, there’s players
that now have opportunities to not only make more money
but to be compensated in the league market,
in the team market, so that they don’t feel
like they have to go overseas, -which also affects motherhood
and child planning. -Right. -Right, right, right. -So, um,
now you don’t have to decide “when am I gonna have my kid” -or “am I scared to tell them
that I’m pregnant.” -Right. And those are the types
of resources and implications that we wanted to change
at a foundational level that can hopefully create
a much better future -for women’s basketball. Yeah.
-That’s really amazing. (cheering and applause) How did you… how do you respond
to those people who– some of–
some of which are trolls but some who maybe, you know,
genuinely from their side, say, -like, “I don’t understand
why…” -They’re all trolls. -Yeah, they’re all trolls?
I like that. -Yeah. You know, some people are like,
“Why do WNBA players “want more money? Like,
they don’t have as many fans -as the NBA.” -You know,
I just don’t understand, um, the ignorance, because it doesn’t make sense. -Right. -But, at the same time,
I think it boils down to the business
being run properly, which, um,
our current commissioner now is really working hard to fix. Granted,
basketball’s basketball. But the game’s different
on the women’s side, -and the fans that we do have–
which are a lot. -Mm-hmm. That is not true.
We do have fans. And I expect everyone here to go
to a WNBA game this summer. -Including you.
-(cheering and applause) -I’m gonna go. I love…
-You’re gonna go. -I love watching
live basketball. -Okay. -But we do have fans. -WOMAN:
23 years, we’ve been going! (chuckles)
You guys go already? -23 years!
-WOMAN 2: 23 years! -23 years?
-Thank you. Thank you. -Wow!
-Thank you. -(cheering and applause)
-Thank you. Thank you. So– I told you we had fans. -Wow. That’s from the beginning.
-We have fans. -That’s O.G. fans.
-Yeah. So, like, you know, it’s just– it’s not true
that we don’t have fans. But the business is different. You know, we play differently. -Um, we appeal
to a different market. -Mm-hmm. And we have to tap into that
in order for the business -to thrive. -When-when you look
at the journey you’ve been on, when you look at the journey
the league has been on, the players have been on, there’s no doubt
that the league is growing. There’s no doubt that the league
makes more money. Is-is there an argument
of-of chicken and the egg? You know, like, people go, like,
“Oh, maybe if the league makes more money, then
the players can get more money.” But is there also the argument
of, “Oh, if you invest more “in the league, then the league
becomes more popular. If it becomes more popular,
it makes more money”? That is definitely what
we’re dealing with right now. And instead of just talking
about the chicken or the egg, bring a chicken that lays
an egg, or let an egg crack. -Like, do something. Don’t…
-Mm, mm, mm, mm. -Don’t just keep talking
about it. -Right. -Yeah. -So, what’s-what’s
your… what’s your goal and-and your journey now? Because, I mean,
you are a legend both in and outside
of basketball. Um, you know, you’ve-you’ve
achieved so many accolades. Um, where do you… where do you
see your journey taking you? Um, right now, I’ve…
I’m finally grabbing the wheel -of the car that’s taking me to
wherever I need to go. -Right. Um, but, to be honest, I just
want to educate more people about the WNBA, women in sports,
empowering women in general. -Mm-hmm. -Um, especially
educating other women on how to empower women. We do need allies, of course. (laughter) -(laughing): And so…
-(applause and cheering) And so, that’s just kind of
what I want to do. I just want
to educate people, because ignorance really eliminates
a lot of preconceptions, -and it changes actions in a
very small way. -Mm-hmm. Right. And I tell everyone, “Okay,
if you can’t go to a WNBA game, at least have the TV on and let
it contribute to the ratings.” Turn it on if you absolutely
have nothing to do. You can find a game. It’s not impossible
to find a game. Turn it on, watch it. Follow me now.
You know me now. You know?
In whatever way you can. I know a lot of people
probably know my teammate, Candice Parker.
I’m sure you can follow her. -Right. -Don’t just watch her
as an analyst. Watch her play. And if you can’t see her,
then you can’t be her, and that’s what
I want to change. Let’s-let’s talk
a little bit about that. Because I think one of the…
one of the more interesting and heartbreaking stories is
undeniably that -of Gigi Bryant.
-Yeah. We saw all these images of her,
and there were… there were seldom images of her
that didn’t involve basketball. You know,
whether it was her playing in-in… in her dress
and in her heels. You know, that-that…
that video that went around. Whether it was pictures of her
practicing with her dad Kobe. Whether it was images of her
at a game staring at you. You know,
almost looking at you like, “Wow. This is where
I dream of being.” There’s no denying
that Gigi Bryant in many ways represented the future
of what the WNBA could be. You know, because she was… She wasn’t just playing
basketball to play basketball. She was trying to get somewhere,
and that somewhere was the WNBA. She looked up to you, she looked up to many
other players in the WNBA. What do you think
that’s done for the sport, and what do you hope
young girls out there who are playing right now
will have that your generation doesn’t? You know, losing Gigi, I think,
to the world, um, it exposed people to a lot
that they didn’t know. Not just about a young girl who wanted to aspire
to be like her dad, but a young girl that was
moving things for women without even realizing it. -She was authentically herself.
-Right. And by her being
authentically herself, um, you know, we saw
a living legacy in her. Uh, not just
through her father, um, but also for women in sports
and for the WNBA. -Right.
-When we got to experience her, we were looking
at what we were working for. You know, we’re not just here
to make a difference for the current players,
for the rookies coming in. We’re here to make a difference
for those girls like Gigi whose eyes lit up every time
that they saw us. And… that is out there, and people need to know
that that is out there. -Um, we were tragically alarmed
by it. -Mm-hmm. But it certainly was
a wake-up call, um, and it really hit hard for the women’s basketball
community to lose her, -but we’re gonna live in
her honor. -(applause, cheering) I could give you that
every single day. -Congratulations on everything
you’ve done. -Thank you. -Congratulations on making
history. -Thank you. Thank you. Nneka Ogwumike of the WNBA
Los Angeles Sparks, everybody.