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Wiggins says she was bullied in WNBA because of her sexuality

Former Stanford star Candice Wiggins says she retired from the WNBA and its “toxic” culture because she got tired of being bullied for being one of the league’s few heterosexual players.

“Me being heterosexual and straight and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “(As a heterosexual) I felt like the 2 percent versus the 98 percent. It felt that way to me. And it’s not just the players. It was the coaches. It was the leaders.”

Wiggins, 30, had hoped to keep playing but decided to step away from the WNBA before the 2016 season.

“I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience didn’t lend itself to my mental state,” Wiggins told the Union-Tribune. “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. … My spirit was being broken.”

Because of a string of injuries, Wiggins never came close to the success in the WNBA that she had at Stanford, where she was a four-time All-American and set a number of school and Pac-10 scoring records. Wiggins was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 WNBA draft by the Minnesota Lynx but was mostly a backup during her eight-year career.

“People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time,” Wiggins said. “I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’ ”

The WNBA had no response to Wiggins’ claims as of Wednesday morning, but at least one player thought her words were uncalled for. Chicago Sky player Imani Boyette responded with an open letter to Wiggins.

“Do you understand what you’ve done? You’ve reinforced unfair stereotypes,” Boyette wrote on her website. “A person’s orientation is their own and their business. Now, because of your article, it is no longer out of bounds to ask WNBA players about their sexuality. Do they ask any male stars in the NBA about their sexuality? Is it even a conversation?”

Boyette is married to University of Texas lineman Paul Boyette Jr.