As coverage of the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery unfolded last Tuesday night, I couldn't help but feel a bit uncomfortable, even as the Milwaukee Bucks walked away with the No. 2 overall pick. The franchise was represented incredibly well by Alexander Lasry and Mallory Edens at the event, but the impulsive reaction that led to instant objectification and digital exploitation of Ms. Edens hit some weird and creepy notes in the aftermath of the lottery.
From the click-bait content, to slideshow posts, to the surge in Twitter followers for Mallory (but oddly, not for Alex), to the striking reality that it felt special and unexpected to even see two women as representatives at the lottery (Anjali Ranadivé and Mallory Edens), the worst aspects of the gender divide in the NBA (and all other major American pro sports) came into focus.
The NBA is a boy's club. Women don't hold many positions of power within the league, and unfortunately the most prominent (or maybe ubiquitous) female presence in the NBA game may be cheerleaders. The coverage of Ms. Edens reflected the boy's club atmosphere. An articulate 18-year-old woman carried herself extremely well on national television and used the platform to promote a charitable organization committed to providing medical care to impoverished individuals across the globe (Partners in Health), and yet she was instantly judged on the basis of her appearance and commodified as an Internet search term by various sports and entertainment outlets. To me, that's a sad commentary on how the pro sports boy's clubs pattern reactions to the presence of the opposite sex.
As the proud father of a young girl who I hope will share my love for the NBA, NFL and MLB, I look forward to the day when these sports find ways to actively integrate more qualified women into positions of power. With the connections to the WNBA, the NBA may be uniquely positioned among US pro sports to take proactive steps in this regard. Why haven't more women been given meaningful professional opportunities on the basketball operations side of things? Why can't the Bucks lead the way? I discuss these issues with Frank Madden on the podcast posted below.
The other big topic of discussion on the podcast became the Bucks' apparent decision to retain GM John Hammond and assistant GM David Morway with the 2014 NBA Draft on the horizon. My argument has always been that this moment is the best chance for the organization to force people to rethink everything they know (or assume) about the Bucks franchise. Since the Bucks aren't cleaning house, or courting the brightest candidate on the market, or completely disentangling the crappy past from the bright future, there are plenty of subtleties to explore.
Does a decision that's "completely acceptable under the current circumstances" fall significantly short of the "ideal" decision? Is that ultimately okay? I rant for a bit and then Frank reacts to my comments.
If you want more podcast content, be sure to check out our previous episode on the NBA Draft Lottery results and potential trade scenarios:
In our first NBA Draft Lottery reaction podcast we discuss top-tier prospects and potential trades http://t.co/w1beBUPYPe— Steven von Horn (@StevevonHorn) May 23, 2014