Lisa Leslie says Brittney Griner deserves to be on the Olympic Roster
On Tuesday morning, LBS spoke with WNBA legend and four-time Olympic gold medalist Lisa Leslie, who was touring to promote the Capital One Cup. The Capital One Cup is awarded each year to the men’s and women’s athletic programs with the most points based on academic and athletic performance. Leslie said she is proud to be a part of it because it honors student athletes — something she is proud to call herself — and will award a combined $400,000 in scholarships to the winning programs this year. You can learn more about the Capital One Cup through Twitter and Facebook, and also by following Lisa Leslie on Twitter.
With the Summer Olympics right around the corner, the U.S. Women’s team is aiming to take home its fifth consecutive gold medal. The team is once again loaded with some of the best players in the world, but one of the 12 roster spots remains unfilled. Many believe that spot is being held for Baylor star Brittney Griner, who will attempt to lead the Bears to a national championship against Notre Dame on Tuesday night. Leslie is one of those people.
“I would 100 percent put Brittney Griner as the 12th player on the Olympic roster for London,” Leslie told LBS. “I know we’ve named 11 but I think with her ability to change the game and clog the lane and block shots, I wouldn’t leave the country without her.”
If chosen, Griner would be the first active collegiate athlete to join the U.S. Women’s team since 1988 when Vicky Bullett of Maryland and Bridgette Gordon of Tennessee played. Rebecca Lobo was a part of the team’s 1996 gold medal run after she graduated and before she began her professional career, but Leslie said she believes that was more the result of “politics” and Griner should be selected because of her ability.
“There’s not too many college players that have been able to impact a team the way that Brittney would be able to,” Leslie explained. “I believe Rebecca Lobo was the first collegiate player to join the Olympic team. She wasn’t a game-changer. It was more of a political thing I think and we took her with us. We had great team chemistry and we gelled and learned a lot from each other. It turned out to be great. I think Griner is a different situation. She’s a player who would deserve to be there because of her skills and her ability to change a game.”
At this point it would be a surprise Geno Auriemma and the Olympic committee passed on Griner. As you can see from Leslie’s comments about Lobo, Griner is seen as a special talent. It’s unlikely that the Women’s team would leave London without gold if she was kept off the team, but the Baylor star should provide another tool for the Americans to dominate yet again.