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Kobe Bryant said Elena Delle Donne could play in the NBA right now. She doesn’t have to.

The NBA legend believes that the Washington Mystics superstar could be lighting it up in NBA games.

2019 WNBA Finals - Game Four
Elena Delle Donne is really, really good. And Kobe Bryant thinks she could be an NBA player ... right now.
Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Earlier this week, retired NBA player Kobe Bryant talked about about women playing in the NBA in an interview to CNN. He mentioned three names.

“Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Elena Delle Donne” were his picks on players who could make an impact on an NBA court today.

There are two ways to look at this.

First, could Taurasi, Moore or Delle Donne realistically play in the NBA? In my opinion, the first female NBA player would likely have to be a guard in an NBA setting. There are plenty of NBA guards who are under 6’6” and all three women Bryant mentioned fit the bill. Also, a female NBA player would have to be an elite shooter. Again, all three are great shooters.

For what it’s worth, Delle Donne, was the subject of a Grizzly Bear Blues column in 2015, when then-contributor Jonah Jordan suggested that the then-Chicago Sky star play for Memphis.

All of that said, there’s another side of Bryant’s comment that I can’t ignore. Consider this tweet from SB Nation’s Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx site Canis Hoopus:

At the end of the day, I actually agree with Canis Hoopus more than suggesting that Emma Meesseman and Kristi Toliver play for the Wizards as we enter the second half of the 2019-20 NBA season.

The WNBA is a great league and a new groundbreaking Collective Bargaining Agreement will help even the playing field between the United States and the Russian or Turkish oligarchs. I’m of the mindset that it’s totally fine for women to play in the WNBA and showcase their skills in that league. I don’t think women have to play with men to be rightfully respected in the grand scheme of things.

Perhaps there will be more opportunities for men and women to play together, especially current NBA and WNBA players. Perhaps, we could see more coed basketball tournaments in 5x5 or 3x3 formats.

But I don’t think that women HAVE to play in the NBA to validate themselves. Women’s tennis players never had to do that and there are mixed doubles. So why can’t women’s basketball players do something similar?

The WNBA is on a positive trajectory, even if I take issue with the way it is probably going to treat Europeans. I enjoy watching the W the way it is and see its potential. So I don’t necessarily agree with Bryant’s comments that women should play in the NBA.