commentary + critique

from tamryn spruill

Black Women in the WNBA Know No Bounds When It Comes to Pursuing Financial Wellness

Jun 11, 2021

By Evan Cooper

Like many exceptional Black women, Candace Parker has her hands in many pots. Most recently, she sat down with Trevor Noah for a virtual discussion of her many endeavors, including her latest: “Moments with Candace Parker,” a parenting-focused podcast.

But Parker is not alone. 

Many WNBA players opt to pursue an array of entrepreneurial endeavors in addition to being full-time athletes performing at the highest level. Renee Montgomery easily transitioned into sports broadcasting during her career; after retiring, she bought an ownership stake in the Atlanta Dream and is now the team’s vice president. 

The Los Angeles Sparks’ Chiney Ogwumike is the first Black woman and WNBA player to host a nationally broadcasted ESPN radio show, and she produced the critically acclaimed “144,” a documentary that follows the WNBA’s 2020 bubble season that took place during a global pandemic and a national reckoning on racism and police violence.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Angel McCoughtry opened an Atlanta-based, community-favorite ice cream shop called McCoughtry’s in 2017, and Marissa Coleman and Alana Beard often speak on Black women’s entrepreneurship after they became co-owners of a Mellow Mushroom franchise in Atlanta. 

Rebekkah Brunson, a five-time champion and current assistant coach with the Minnesota Lynx, founded and manages her own women’s basketball foundation and owns and operates a waffle truck called Sweet Gypsy Waffles.  

The list continues, but the theme remains the same: Black women in the WNBA, pursuing financial wellness, know no bounds. 

So, why do so many players have their hands in so many pots? In short, they have to. It is no secret that athletes in women’s leagues do not get a fraction of the salaries or brand endorsements that their male counterparts do. 

Watch: CP3 in conversation with Trevor Noah


Las Vegas Aces center Liz Cambage drew attention to these pay inequities when she tweeted in June of 2018: “Today, I learnt NBA refs make more than a WNBA player and the 12th man on a NBA team makes more than a whole WNBA team.” 

Although the CBA of 2020 vastly improved players’ salaries and working conditions, Cambage’s comments still offer a glimpse at the comically disproportionate salaries the league’s players historically have been forced to supplement by other means. Moreover, when we look at the big picture of wealth disparity, Black women are categorically paid less than their white male and female counterparts. specified that, on average, Black women are paid 38% less than white men and 21% less than white women. This reality, while publicly debated amongst WNBA players, is privately crushing many working-class Black women who have been systematically blocked from livable wages. 

After a storied career in the WNBA, Parker, at least, is finally getting the media attention she has deserved all along, starting with her TNT analyst role that makes her visible to NBA fans in a lively way. Coupled with the fact that CP3 is more than heavily decorated in the WNBA, she explained to Noah that she aims to “bring an active player’s perspective as a sports analyst.” Her role also includes frequently bantering with Shaq. But she continues advocating for the Black community, in particular, for Black women and girls from all walks of life. Thus, Parker epitomizes the many roles Black women take on, and well. When we consider homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia, racism and other tools used to suppress Black women based on their perceived lack of desirability to white America, and how it negatively affects their access to wealth and resources, we begin to understand the necessity of their grind and the waves of hope their visibility gives to the Black community. 

As for “Moments with Candace Parker,” we do know the guest list will be highly stacked. In her talk with Noah, Parker teased an A-list line of celebrity guests including Tia Mowry, Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union. On the topic of creating stability within the chaos of playing at the highest level of women’s basketball, Parker acknowledged the immense privilege she enjoys, of being able to travel with her 12-year-old daughter, Lailaa, as a professional athlete.

And she was quick to uplift the parents caring for their children under a completely different set of circumstances, listing job restrictions and other obligations that tend to impede on an ideal parenting style.