Ann Meyers' NBA Bid: Hype, Hope, or Hoax?

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NBC Today Show
Tom Brokaw/Dick Schapp
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Video News Report
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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Critics say Ann Meyers did not have the talent to play in the NBA, but she received a lot of media coverage for trying to make the Indiana Pacers basketball team.



"Ann Meyers' NBA Bid: Hype, Hope, or Hoax?" Dick Schapp, correspondent. NBC Today Show. NBCUniversal Media. 14 Sep. 1979. NBC Learn. Web. 16 January 2015.


Schapp, D. (Reporter), & Brokaw, T. (Anchor). (1979, September 14). Ann Meyers' NBA Bid: Hype, Hope, or Hoax? [Television series episode]. NBC Today Show. Retrieved from


"Ann Meyers' NBA Bid: Hype, Hope, or Hoax?" NBC Today Show, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 09/14/1979. Accessed Fri Jan 16 2015 from NBC Learn:


Ann Myers' NBA Bid: Hype, Hope, or Hoax?

TOM BROKAW, anchor: Dick Schapp is with us this morning to handle the cross-country segment of the day, he is in the studio with us but he has been out in Indianapolis, Hoosierville.

DICK SCHAPP, reporting: That’s where I was, it was such a big story in sports these past ten days, the signing of Ann Myers, the first woman to get a trial in the National Basketball Association. The questions everyone asked was, was it a hype, was it a hoax? But the real question with a simple and obvious answer is this, was there any conceivable way that Ann might have the skill to play in the NBA?

KATHY RUSH, Women’s basketball couch: No I don’t think that there is any way Annie can make it in the NBA and I don’t think that there is any woman who can make it in the NBA.

PAT KENNEDY, runs basketball camp: Realistically I don’t think that she has any chance to make the NBA.

SCHAPP: Pat Kennedy who runs her own basketball camp sends Kathy Rush who has couched national championship teams, are experts on women’s basketball. Given all this, what was wrong with the news conference last week with the Indiana Pacers were giving Anne Myers a chance to try out for the NBA. And a guaranteed one year 50 thousand dollar contract was not that the Pacers were doing it for publicity, which they were. And not that Ann Myers was doing it for money, which she was. There was nothing wrong per-say about getting publicity and making money. But that almost everyone involved with the news conference acted as though Ann actually had a slim chance to make it.

SLICK LEONARD, Coach: She has the credentials to make it.

SCHAPP: Said Indiana couch Slick Leonard with a straight face.

SAM NASSI, Indiana Pacers owner: She has all the credentials in the world.

SCHAPP: Added Indiana owner Sam Nassi with controlled enthusiasm, the truth is that Ann did not have the credentials to play in the NBA. At five foot nine and 140 pounds, she was literally in over her head. She did not have the speed, strength, spring or stamina, to compete with remarkably athletic men who play basketball at its highest level. And yet after Ann’s first workout at the Pacer’s rookie and free agent camp all three networks closed their nightly news programs with stories implying that Ann Myers just might become the first woman in the NBA. The implication was ridiculous, and all of Ann’s fellow candidates for the Pacers, knew it.

NEIL TROOP, cut from tryouts: It seemed kind of impossibility for her to really make it in the NBA.

SCHAPP: That’s Neil Troop, he’s six-foot-ten and weighs 220 pounds. He didn’t make it to the Pacers either. One athlete did recent the attacks on Myer’s chances, an athlete that admitted that she knew little about basketball, waste-driver Janet Guthrie.

JANET GUTHRIE, waste-driver: I think the assumption, because she is a women she will not be capable, is entirely unjustified.

SCHAPP: Ann Myers Guthrie has made it in a man’s sport, but with the aid of a machine. But in a purely human sport woman have a tougher time, Chris for instance is a great tennis player but she can’t beat her husband. Yet Ann Myers forced herself to believe against all logic that she had a chance.

ANN MYERS, first woman to tryout for NBA: Deep down inside I think that in order for me to just attempt it, I have to look at it that way. Because if I didn’t think positive like that then why even bother because it would have been a joke. And you know there is a lot of things in life that they say can’t be done, and if people believe enough in themselves and other people the impossible can happen.

SCHAPP: The impossible didn’t happen. Ann Myers didn’t embarrass herself; she showed that she has fundamental skills and team basketball knowledge. But that wasn’t enough, at the end of three days of tryouts, the couch Slick Leonard sat Ann down and told her that she was being dropped from the roster. She was of course disappointed, so was Indiana owner Sam Nassi.

NASSI: I felt there was maybe a hundred to one shot against her making it, maybe a 500 to one shot, however if she could make it the payoff could be 10 thousand or 50 thousand to one.

SCHAPP: Nassi didn’t hit the jackpot, nor did Myers. But at least she had given it her best effort.

MYERS: Most of my life the guys have accepted me as a ball player, after I get out there and they see what I can do, they forget that I am a woman. And they just look at me as a ball player, and they go out there and play.

SCHAPP: Ann Myers can still go out there and play against men if she wants but not in the NBA. The fact that Ann Myers is not good enough to play in the NBA should not be considered a knock on women’s basketball. Of course the level of skill is different from the men’s game, but the level of excitement can be just the same.