Why Liz Cambage has a point about Becky Hammon and the WNBA’s pay disparity issue

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 05: Assistant coach Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs looks on against the Orlando Magic during the first half at Amway Center on November 05, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
By Mike Vorkunov Feb 4, 2022 61
It was the tweet that spurred 3,600 retweets because Liz Cambage had a point when she let out her distaste for the WNBA’s newest pay disparity issue.

Becky Hammon, the new Las Vegas Aces head coach, will make $1 million this upcoming season, her first in the role. It is a gargantuan number for the league and perhaps a sign of the wage inflation that the league could soon see as it continues to grow its business. But it did not sit well with Cambage, a free agent who starred for the Aces last season.

The supermax salary cap for a WNBA player in 2022 is $228,094, a number to which Cambage refers in her tweet to derive Hammon’s salary as nearly four times as much.  Cambage made a little more than $221,000 last season. Some of the league’s top players have the potential to make $500,000 in a season if they earn one of the league’s player marketing agreements.

Cambage’s umbrage is well-placed. Not only is the stark difference easy to see, it also reflects a large gap in the WNBA’s salary model for coaches and players, and perhaps speaks to the way in which players are undervalued by the league’s economics.

That a coach would make more than four times the highest-paid player in the WNBA is completely out of line with any other major professional sport in North America. That a coach would make more, at all, than the highest-paid player in the WNBA is completely out of line with any other major professional sport in North America.

Player salaries have grown by leaps over the last few decades in every professional sport and created a disparity between those leagues’ coaches. That has not been reflected in the WNBA.