Ex-WNBA star Candice Wiggins open up about ‘Toxic’ league

The former Minnesota Lynx shooter says she was bullied for being heterosexual

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Former Minnesota Lynx guard Candice Wiggins says during her pro basketball career, she was bullied for being heterosexual and called the WNBA a “toxic” environment that drove her into retirement at age 29.

Wiggins told The San Diego Union-Tribune in an interview published Feb. 20, that her popularity as well as her sexual orientation made her a target. Wiggins retired from the WNBA in 2016 after six seasons.

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“I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience didn’t lend itself to my mental state,” Wiggins recalled. “It was a depressing state in the WNBA. It’s not watched. 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.”

Problems from the start

According to Wiggins, the problems started pretty much from day one after she was drafted by the Minnesota Lynx in 2008.

“Me being heterosexual and straight and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” she 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.”

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That number was impossible to corroborate, but Wiggins said that she was using the 98 percent figure not as a strict factual percentage but as a way to illustrate the environment she was talking about.

“People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time,” Wiggins said. “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.'”

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WNBA Players Deny

The league had no official comment on Wiggins’ allegations, but WNBA players, however, have disputed Wiggins’ accusations.

“I know Candice as a sweet, intelligent young lady,” DeLisha Milton-Jones a former LA Sparks forward, who now is an assistant coach at Pepperdine, told ESPN. “I don’t want to take anything from her experiences while in the league, so I can only speak for what I experienced firsthand. And it’s in complete contradiction of what’s been stated by Candice.

For her part, Wiggins said, she is going to write an autobiography about her experiences.

“I try to be really sensitive. I’m not trying to crush anyone’s dreams or aspirations, or the dreams of the WNBA. I want things to be great, but at the same time it’s important for me to be honest in my reflections,” she said.