Breanna Stewart says she doesn’t share Candice Wiggins’ “toxic” experience in WNBA

Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart during a WNBA basketball game against the Connecticut Sun, Friday, June 10, 2016, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

(WTNH)–Former UConn women’s basketball star and current Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart said she doesn’t share Candice Wiggins’ “toxic” experience in the WNBA.

Wiggins, who played seven seasons with four WNBA teams from 2008-15, was quoted in a San Diego Times-Union story as saying that she was bullied for being heterosexual, and called the culture in the leauge “very, very harmful.”

Stewart, appearing on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” on Thursday, said she felt she had been welcomed with “open arms.”

“Having gone through my rookie year, it’s been great,” Stewart said. “It hasn’t been anything that she has said. She may be accurate in what happened in her career, but with me, I was in a welcome place.”

Stewart was chosen with the No. 1 pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft. She entered the league as one of the most decorated women’s college basketball players in history, having won four straight NCAA championships at UConn.

“My teammates were great. On the court, it’s always going to be competitive. You’re going to get pushed around, you’re going to get welcomed to the league with even more physical play, but if you can play basketball and you have the skill set to be there, you’re welcome to be there.”

Wiggins described a very different experience during her time in the league.

The former Stanford star claimed that she was bullied for being straight, and claimed that “98 percent” of players in the league were gay.

“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.'”

Stewart said the WNBA is an enviroment where you should feel comfortable, and said, “it’s a place where nothing matters–race, sexuality–except whether you have game.”

She also took to Twitter to amplify her comments:

“You have to respect Candice,” Stewart said on ‘SportsCenter.’ “And like I said, if that’s her story, it sucks that that happened. But there is a lot missing in this story. For the league to find what’s missing and put the pieces together, make more sense than just ‘I was straight, and I was bullied for it.’ There’s a lot more to it, I’m sure.”

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