Michael Porter Jr. was the latest guest on The Pivot and made serious waves for his comments on the WNBA.
Complex – “I see both sides. I know these women want to be paid more and they are very talented. But so is a famous ping-pong player,” Porter says. “The best ping pong player is just as talented as the best player in the NBA. That doesn’t mean they’ll be paid the same, because that’s what people want to watch.”
“As much as I understand that women want the same treatment as men, it’s a different sport. They don’t fill the arenas, obviously, their television offerings are not the same. So even though I advocate for women and a sort of equality in respect for their profession, I mean, we can’t pay them the same thing,” he continues. “But I feel like there should be a little way to make a little more money because they’re very talented.”
Now MPJr. isn’t the first to talk about WNBA pay on a podcast, but thanks to how little happens and how the algorithm works, her comments reached the top of Twitter this morning. As they say, there is one main topic discussed every day on Twitter… and the goal is to never be that topic.
Some weren’t happy that Porter Jr. referred to WNBA players as “women:”
It is important to acknowledge the first part of this tweet when discussing this topic. WNBA players are not asking to be paid the same as NBA players, but rather they want to receive the same percentage of revenue. I assume it has something to do with the CBA and the disparity is there thanks to the WNBA not being around as long as its counterpart.
NBA players have a 50% revenue share, while WNBA players only have a 23% revenue share. Last year, the NBA made more than $10.7 billion in revenue, while the WNBA made $200 million. With only $200 million per year, it’s possible that the 77% retained by the WNBA is critical to keeping the company alive, while the economics of the NBA are a little different.
Often you will hear people say that the WNBA is subsidized by the NBA. Whether this is true or not is a bit confusing. In 2002, the NBA announced that it no longer subsidize the WNBA. However, in 2018, Adam Silver said the WNBA was losing on average 10 million per year (this was 5 years ago, and no updates since). On top of that, in 2003, David Stern said the WNBA would get a Annual allocation of $12 million of the NBA. I believe 5/12 of WNBA owners are also NBA owners, which could be considered a form of “subsidy.”
Much of this is not public, which may be intentional on the NBA’s part. However, one thing is clear: The NBA wants the WNBA to stick around. New franchises are emerging in the league and the popularity of women’s basketball is on the rise. Regarding revenue sharing, this is a question that will need to be answered during negotiations for the next collective agreement.