Backlash follows Arenas' suggestion

Tamika Catchings (far right) of the Indiana Fever defends against Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx in Game Five of the 2015 WNBA Finals on Oct 14. The Lynx defeated the Fever 69-52 to win the WNBA Championship.
Tamika Catchings (far right) of the Indiana Fever defends against Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx in Game Five of the 2015 WNBA Finals on Oct 14. The Lynx defeated the Fever 69-52 to win the WNBA Championship. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Former National Basketball Association star Gilbert Arenas has offered up a two-point plan for increasing the popularity of women's basketball - skimpier uniforms and more traditionally attractive players.

The three-time All-Star posted an Instagram video on Tuesday showing two fitness models playing one-on-one, suggesting that "ugly" Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) players "looking like cast members from Orange is the New Black" have repelled fans from the world's top women's basketball league.

"NOW this is what America was hoping for when they announced the #WNBA back in 1996… not a bunch of chicks running around looking like cast members from #orangeisthenewblack," he wrote in the caption accompanying the video. "Don't get me wrong, they have few #cutiepies but there's a whole a lot of #beanpies running around."

Aware of the backlash his remarks would invite, he added: "If you think this is sexist, nine times out of 10, you're the ugly one and we didn't pay to come see you play anyway."

The NBA and WNBA hit back at Arenas on Wednesday.

CELEBRATING ROLE MODELS

They (WNBA players) should be celebrated for their accomplishments, not disparaged with ignorant insults.

MIKE BASS , NBA and WNBA spokesman

"Gilbert Arenas' comments are repugnant, utterly disrespectful and flat-out wrong," spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement on behalf of both associations.

"WNBA players are strong, talented and determined individuals who give it their all on the court and serve as inspiring role models to millions around the world.

"They should be celebrated for their accomplishments, not disparaged with ignorant insults."

Arenas, 33, last played in the NBA in 2012 before a one-year stint with the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association.

He averaged 20.7 points in 11 seasons with the Golden State Warriors, Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies.

He missed most of the 2009-10 season owing to a locker-room conflagration over a gambling debt that saw handguns drawn, an episode that effectively derailed his NBA career.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2015, with the headline 'Backlash follows Arenas' suggestion'. Print Edition | Subscribe