Candice Wiggins’ WNBA dreams quickly turned into a nightmare.
In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Wiggins said she was bullied for eight years in the WNBA for being straight. The former Liberty player described the culture of the league to be “very, very harmful.”
“It wasn’t like my dreams came true in the WNBA. It was quite the opposite,” Wiggins said.
“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge. I would say 98% 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.”
Part of the problem was the idea that the league never got much attention. Low TV ratings and ticket sales drove competition and had players “fighting for crumbs,” creating “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.
Wiggins was the third overall pick in the 2008 WNBA draft by the Minnesota Lynx. She played for the Lynx, Sparks, Shock and Liberty throughout the eight years in the league. Wiggins stopped playing following her 2015 season in New York.
“I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience didn’t lend itself to my mental state,” Wiggins said. “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.”
Wiggins walked away from the game at the age of 29.