SportsHead: Sabrina vs. Steph

Mars Johnson| Marlin Chronicle

On Feb. 17, WNBA player Sabrina Ionescu competed against NBA player Stephen Curry in the highly anticipated Starry 3-Point Contest. The contest has the same rules as previous NBA three-point tests, in which players have a minute and 10 seconds to make as many threes as they can out of 27 attempts.

This is the first time in history in which a WNBA player competed against an NBA player during the NBA All-Star Weekend, which typically features the best NBA players competing against each other. 

The competition comes after Ionescu set a WNBA and NBA all-time record for a single round score in the three-point contest during the 2023 WNBA All-Star weekend. That same year, she also set the record for the most threes made in a single WNBA season with 128 threes. Her record-setting season sparked debates on whether Ionescu or Curry was a better shooter, setting the stage for the two to settle the debate in a head-to-head contest. 

For the contest, Ionescu chose to shoot from the NBA regulation three-point line, which is 3 feet farther from the basket than the WNBA regulation three-point line. This difference in distance did not slow Ionescu down as she scored 26 points, but was defeated by Curry’s 29 points. 

Despite the close match, people on social media, mostly men from what I saw, still tried to undermine Ionescu’s talent and women’s talent in general. Kenny Smith, a sports commentator for the event, said that Ionescu should have shot from the WNBA regulation three-point line to increase the fairness of the contest. 

When his colleagues challenged him, he defended himself and said that she wouldn’t shoot with a men’s ball so why would she shoot NBA threes. He then said that there are men’s and women’s sports for a reason. 

So let’s talk about how different women’s and men’s basketball are. I wouldn’t say that the two sports are exactly the same. There are obvious differences such as dunking. Women can dunk, and there are players that have dunked in WNBA games college games, and high school games. Women just do not dunk as often and as elaborately as men do. 

Some may bring up the difference of pace between the two, but it’s truly not a drastic difference. There is also a difference in height, but again, the women are not far behind, and this is the case for many other distinctions. 

The reason why there are differences in the first place is because of the lack of support and resources women’s basketball has in comparison to men’s. There haven’t been attempts to remedy the issue until recently, but the problem still exists. If you are a basketball fan, you will remember the insulting, unequal treatment of the women’s NCAA tournament versus the men’s tournament. That was just 3 years ago, and the misogyny surrounding the Steph versus Sabrina contest was only a few days ago. 

Not to mention, the first WNBA game was in 1997, and the first NBA game was in 1946, a 50-year difference. If the women’s game started at the same time with the exact same resources and support as the men’s, women would be performing at very close levels to the men. I still think there would be slight differences due to the general hormonal differences between the two, although there are a plethora of men and women that defy these differences. 

People need to respect the women’s game especially with how much it has grown and is continuing to grow. The new generation of women’s basketball (e.g. Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Paige Beckers, Juju Watkins, Hannah Hidalgo, Alyssa Pili, etc.) is proof of this growth, as they have been setting records left and right with not only their individual stats but also with the amount of people viewing their games.

By: Sydnee Washington