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WNBA players have become targets of fake pay disparity quotes on social media. Here’s what they’re actually arguing for.

The made-up quotes are meant to divide WNBA and NBA colleagues. That’s NOT the goal in the player’s fight for a better wage.

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Washington Mystics v Phoenix Mercury Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

WNBA players have recently become the target of made-up quotes on Instagram and Twitter meant to inhibit the athletes’ push for better pay to fix the league’s wage gap problem. In recent weeks, Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, Dallas Wings guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, and Las Vegas Aces forward Tamera Young have all been attributed to false quotes that have gone viral, some even then falsely aggregated by large news outlets.

The WNBA’s pay disparity has become a bigger topic than ever in the 2018 season because both the league and the Players Association have a Nov. 1 opt-out date for the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The players have used their voices on social media and through the media to bolster their claim for a better share of the league’s revenue. While NBA players make around 50 percent of their league’s revenue, WNBA players earn in the realm of 20 percent of an even smaller pot. That’s why most players head overseas during the WNBA’s offseason to make three to 15 times as much money in Europe, Asia, and Australia.

The made-up quotes are created to cause a divide between NBA and WNBA players

To stop the spread of these false quotes, I won’t share them in this story, but two of the three to go viral directly named NBA players. One quotes Diggins-Smith saying a majority of WNBA players are more skilled than LeBron James and another singles out Heat guard Tyler Johnson as an overpaid player and quotes Griner.

The quotes are told in the form of graphics, some even stealing the image templates and watermarks of major news outlets. The similarities are striking, and make the quote dangerously believable.

What did Brittney Griner actually say?

Griner opened up on Instagram to clarify that she never said what was quoted.

Griner on IG: Never said this BTW I do believe we should get paid more in the WNBA before players decide to only play overseas and rest our bodies during the summer. However, I never called out a NBA player. I have said that they make a crazy amount of money and it would be nice to make even half of what they make. Also( no disrespect but I don’t even know who he is) wouldn’t call out anybody I don’t know. Especially don’t know what he makes. I just know we don’t make shit.

She denied ever talking about Tyler Johnson’s salary, even throwing some shade that she didn’t know who he was. The last sentence of her post on Instagram really echos the sentiment of what the WNBA’s players are fed up with in the most blunt manner: “I just know we don’t make shit.”

Griner would know that especially as she makes $113,500 this year for playing in the WNBA, and has made close to $1 million for a single season in Russia.

What did Skylar Diggins-Smith actually say?

Diggins-Smith called out the fake quote about her on Twitter, which has since been deleted.

The Wings star has been very open about her thoughts on the WNBA’s pay gap, penning a story in Wealthsimple and speaking honestly to the media. In the piece, she argued for:

Better pay:

Diggins-Smith: So before we even talk about base salary or anything like that, we don’t even get paid the same percentage of the revenue that we bring in, which is kind of unbelievable. People try to hijack this issue and say that women’s basketball may not be as interesting a game, because they disparage women in sports, period. But we don’t even make the same percentage of revenue!

The WNBA to help put out its best product:

Diggins-Smith: You have women playing year-round basketball going overseas to have more opportunities for higher wages. I’ve never been overseas to play. I’m with Roc Nation, where I’m the only woman signed, and I take my off-season and use it to explore other opportunities, to work with different brands and explore different marketing opportunities that Roc Nation and I decided to pursue, like my basketball camps. But 90 percent of the league goes overseas. And so these women are playing year-round, which is terrible for your body. It’s so much wear and tear.

Better treatment from ESPN:

Diggins-Smith: People always talk about, “Well, you gotta have more people in the seats.” But nobody puts us on TV! We have a competitive game, great match-ups; everything that would yield people wanting to see us, plus the success of women’s college basketball.

But you rarely see the WNBA on the “Worldwide Leader in Sports”: ESPN. You rarely see them talking about women’s sports in general, let alone highlights of the WNBA games. Yes, LeBron is one of the best athletes in the world, but they’ll go into everything that he ate before they show a highlight of a WNBA game.

I was a guest on the His & Hers that featured Jemele Hill and Michael Smith and is no longer on ESPN. I was filling in for Jemele during game five of the WNBA Finals — Minnesota versus LA. That’s the longest the series could go. And they have a board where they write down what’s gonna happen on the show. And game five of the WNBA finals was not even on the board.

They asked me, “Well, is there anything that you wanna talk about?” And I kinda scoffed and said, “Uh, game five of the WNBA Finals?” So they just scribbled it into one of the blocks. It was so symbolic, that moment. It’s kinda unbelievable how the WNBA is viewed and treated even by the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

Better travel conditions:

Diggins-Smith: Let’s say we have a game on Thursday and a game on Friday and they’re both away. We will play Thursday night, then fly on a commercial plane on Friday — the same day as the game — and play. In college, everyone who played Division I chartered private planes. But it’s a WNBA policy that everyone flies commercial, because if someone charters then it would be considered an advantage.

So you’ve got 6’5, 6’8 women flying coach. Some lady in the airport came up to me and she’s like, “You guys fly commercial? Why aren’t you guys on your own plane?”

The libelous quote graphics shared on social media are meant to create divide and distract from the larger issue at hand: the unfair treatment — monetarily and otherwise — that WNBA players are fighting to change. Always remember to check for the verified checkmarks on Twitter and Instagram. Otherwise you’re just contributing to the list of issues the world’s best female athletes have to deal with on an everyday basis.