Former Lynx player says she was bullied for being straight

Minnesota Lynx guard Candace Wiggins (11) celebrates with teammate Maya Moore (23) after defeating the Tulsa Shock 92-83 in a WNBA basketball game, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Genevieve Ross)

Former Minnesota Lynx star Candace Wiggins, now retired, says the team and the WNBA bullied her because she’s heterosexual in a league she says is “98% gay.”

In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Wiggins says she retired abruptly because she found the WNBA “depressing.”

“It’s not watched,” she said. “Our value is diminished. It can be quite hard. I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me. … My spirit was being broken.”

She revealed plenty.

“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins said. “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules they (the other players) could apply.

“There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we’re all fighting for crumbs,” Wiggins said. “The way I looked, the way I played – those things contributed to the tension.

“People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time. I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’ “

Wiggins said the culture of the WNBA is to pressure women to act like men.

“It comes to a point where you get compared so much to the men, you come to mirror the men,’ she said. “So many people think you have to look like a man, play like a man to get respect. I was the opposite. I was proud to a be a woman, and it didn’t fit well in that culture.”

Wiggins says she forgives everyone.

[Update 7:33 pm]

The league’s commissioner refused comment.

[Update 9:33 pm;]

Players’ union president Nneka Ogwumike, released a statement.

“Our union is only as strong as our loyalty to and support for one another. What is key to that loyalty and support is our commitment to diversity and inclusion. As a union, we should and we will continue to celebrate the diversity that makes us special and lead by example. We must respect the rights of those we don’t agree with when they speak their mind. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the comments made recently by a former player or whether one has seen or experienced anything like what she has described, anything that impacts an inclusive culture should be taken seriously.”