Cockburn has long admired the athletic feats of strength displayed on the basketball court and the Olympian proportions of the game’s players. The muscle-bound, skyscraper-sized men and women leaping and pirouetting across the court, like a herd of stampeding gazelles, is never less than thrilling to watch.
So, it was with consternation Cockburn heard of an incident last weekend, during a game between the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun and the Las Vegas Aces, where a coach was heard to hurl a dire insult at one of the players, from the safety of the sidelines. Curt Miller, the head coach for the Sun, reacted to a decision by the referee about an opposing team member, by yelling out ‘Come on, she’s 300 pounds!’
Big mistake. The player in question, Liz Cambage, promptly took to social media after the game to berate, racially insult and threaten Miller.
On her Instagram Story, the 6’8” Cambage struck an imposing figure in her McDonald’s-badged ‘All-American’ outfit. ‘I’m weighing 235 pounds,’ she announced. ‘I’m very proud of being a big bitch. To the coach of Connecticut, little sir man, I don’t know your name…I will never let a man disrespect me, ever, ever, ever, especially a little white one… Don’t ever try to disrespect me or another woman in the league.’
‘You were so lucky it was during the game. I was out there doing my job,’ Cambage continued, before a long, pregnant pause. Miller might be forgiven for considering police protection at this point. After all, she is a ‘big bitch’.
— W Lead (@WNBALead) May 24, 2021
Naturally, given the grievous nature of Miller’s offense, Cockburn is relieved to hear that he has been sternly censured by the WNBA — and issued a groveling apology to Cambage.
‘I made an inappropriate and offensive comment in reference to Liz Cambage’s height and weight,’ Miller said on Monday. ‘I regret what I said in the heat of the moment. I understand the gravity of my words and have learned from this.’
No doubt, you are as appalled as Cockburn is by the gravity of Miller’s words. ‘But she’s 300 pounds!’ is not the kind of language we expect to hear during a heated ball game. The veteran coach was fined $10,000 and suspended temporarily from his duties. Cockburn had hoped he’d be sent to stand in the corner for an hour to think about what he did too, but still. It’s a start. Perhaps now he will agree to undertake racial bias training? Start a foundation, quit social media, and retire to the country to do good works? Thank goodness. Anything but calling a self-described ‘big bitch’ well, big.
Basketball coaches and players shout all sorts of things to each other on the court. And nicknames based on personal attributes and characteristics are commonplace. Cockburn fondly recalls the likes of Charles ‘the Round Mound of Rebound’ Barkley, Bill ‘the Owl Without a Vowel’ Mlkvy, Kobe ‘the Black Mamba’ Bryant.
But clearly, when shouting out ‘But she’s 300 pounds!’ about a woman of 235lb, it’s straight to kangaroo courts of social-media justice. And for threatening of a coach, incidentally a gay man who has dealt with plenty of prejudice and bigotry himself in the sport? No consequences whatsoever.
Cockburn expects that about a dozen people would have heard Miller’s comment. At the time of writing, Cambage’s response on social media has racked up almost 500,000 views.
Ain’t that a bitch?