USC Women's Basketball

A'ja Wilson happy to 'stir the pot' by speaking out on WNBA-NBA pay gap

A’ja Wilson talks adjustments to WNBA, living on her own for first time

Former USC women's basketball star A'ja Wilson and her new coach with the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces, Bill Laimbeer, talk about what the No. 1 draft pick still has to learn about playing in the pro ranks.
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Former USC women's basketball star A'ja Wilson and her new coach with the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces, Bill Laimbeer, talk about what the No. 1 draft pick still has to learn about playing in the pro ranks.

After being selected No. 1 overall in the WNBA draft this past April, former South Carolina women's basketball star A'ja Wilson signed a three-year deal with her new team, the Las Vegas Aces, worth an average of $55,052 per year, with a team option worth $67,020 for a fourth season.

That rookie scale contract isn't the biggest deal a WNBA player can sign — the maximum salary for anyone in the league for 2018 is $115,500. But any of those numbers pale in comparison to the deals that NBA players get, including Wilson's No. 1 pick counterpart, Deandre Ayton, who will get more than $6.8 million in his first season with the Phoenix Suns, and superstar LeBron James, who recently agreed to sign a four-year, $153.3 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The former contract, which was first reported Sunday, was obviously huge news in basketball circles, and Wilson used it as an opportunity to point out the massive wage gap between NBA and WNBA players.

"154M ........... must. be. nice. We over here looking for a (million) but Lord, let me get back in my lane," Wilson wrote on Twitter.

Wilson is not the first to note the gap or advocate for better pay for female basketball players, but her tweet set off a flurry of commentary as various social media users attacked the idea.

The former Gamecock swiped back at the criticism, however. She pointed out that arguments about the difference in the leagues' revenues ignores the fact that the WNBA's collective bargaining agreement guarantees players a lower percentage of revenues, noted that even bench NBA players get paid more than WNBA stars and fired back at those who mocked the women's game.

Wilson also got some help from two other USC legends — her former coach, Dawn Staley, and men's basketball great Alex English, who enthusiastically defended her.

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