Candice Wiggins said her experience playing in the WNBA was ‘‘toxic’’ and was a major reason why she retired last season. In an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune, Wiggins said the culture in the league was ‘‘very, very harmful’’ and that she was targeted throughout her career for being heterosexual and popular. The 30-year-old Stanford graduate said she was bullied from the time she was drafted by Minnesota. ‘‘Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,’’ Wiggins said, who played eight years in the league with four teams. ‘‘I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience didn’t lend itself to my mental state. It was a depressing state in the WNBA. It’s not watched. Our value is diminished. It can be quite hard. I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me.’’
Current and former WNBA players were empathetic to Wiggins, but also disputed her claims in social media posts. Imani Boyette, who just finished her rookie year with the Chicago Sky, posted a lengthy blog on Wiggins’s comments. ‘‘I don’t want to silence you Candice. I hope we can have an open dialogue about your experiences. But next time, I hope you ask your journalist to interview someone else who was there with you,’’ Boyette wrote. ‘‘I ask that you use real statistics. I ask that you not try to out other women. I ask that you try not to defame a league that gave you your platform, whether you like it or not. I ask that you remember your sisters, your fellow WNBA stars, the young girls coming up after you. The WNBA is about inclusion, always has been and always will be.’’
Dupree traded to Fever
After spending the last seven years playing for the Phoenix Mercury, five-time All-Star Candice Dupree was traded to the Indiana Fever as part of a three-team deal that includes Connecticut. The Fever also get the No. 17 pick in this year’s draft while Phoenix receives Camille Little and Jillian Alleyne from the Sun. Connecticut received Lynetta Kizer and the eighth pick in the draft.
BAA a no-go for Flanagan
Four-time Olympian and Marblehead native Shalane Flanagan, 35, withdrew from this year’s Boston Marathon because of a fracture in her back that will require four-to-six weeks of rest. Flanagan has competed in the Boston Marathon three times and holds the course record for American women (2 hours 22 minutes 2 seconds). She did not participate in 2016 because she qualified for the Rio Olympics in February that year; she finished sixth in Rio.
Panthers cut Tolbert
The Panthers began restructuring their roster, releasing three-time Pro Bowl fullback Mike Tolbert and backup defensive tackle Paul Soliai. The versatile Tolbert was utilized as a blocker, runner, and receiver during his five seasons with the Panthers, but the 31-year-old’s production tailed off last season. Tolbert carried 35 times for 114 yards with no touchdowns with 10 receptions for 72 yards and one touchdown in 2016. The year before Tolbert ran 62 times for 256 yards with one TD and caught 18 passes for 154 yards and three TDs.
Breakers begin April 16
The National Women’s Soccer League announced the schedule for its opening weekend, including the first game broadcast on Lifetime as part of the league’s new partnership with A+E Networks. The Portland Thorns, who have the league’s best average attendance, will host the Orlando Pride on April 15 for Lifetime’s first Game of the Week. The Boston Breakers visit FC Kansas City on April 16. The league’s teams will play a 24-game schedule evenly divided between home and away matches. Training camps will open March 13 . . . Brooks Lennon, loaned this month from Liverpool to Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, scored three goals to lead the United States over Haiti, 4-1, at San Jose, Costa Rica, and put the Americans in position to advance in qualifying for the Under-20 World Cup. The US team (1-1) closes first-round play Friday against St. Kitts.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 20, 2017
Leafs done with Laich
The Toronto Maple Leafs placed Brooks Laich on waivers, two days after the veteran center questioned where he fit in the team’s plans. The Maple Leafs acquired Laich, 33, from Washington a year ago. Laich, however, has spent this season in the minors since being demoted in October. Laich is in the final year of a contract that pays him a base salary of $4 million this season . . . The Carolina Hurricanes acquired defenseman Philip Samuelsson, the son of former NHL defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, from the Canadiens in a trade of minor leaguers. The Hurricanes picked up the 25-year-old defenseman in exchange for defenseman Keegan Lowe.