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Canadians Kia Nurse and Kayla Alexander applaud WNBA´s landmark new labour deal

For the second consecutive WNBA off-season, the 23-year-old from Hamilton, Ont., is playing in Australia for the Canberra Capitals, who she led to a WNBL championship last spring.

Doing overseas double-duty has been the norm for WNBA players. The fact they’re paid virtual peanuts — particularly in comparison to their male NBA colleagues — has made a second paycheck a necessity.

But the women’s pro basketball landscape experienced a seismic shift Tuesday with news of the WNBA’s landmark collective bargaining agreement. And Nurse and her WNBA colleagues applauded the tentative eight-year agreement that will see average salaries rise to six figures for the first time, plus improved travel conditions and full paid salary for players on maternity leave.

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“I think there’s a lot of exciting parts about this CBA,” Nurse said from Australia. “As the years continue to go and as I continue to grow and develop in this league and hopefully have a long standing there, as the time goes on then maybe that’s when those opportunities to not going overseas will come into play. And hopefully the younger generations that are coming up, they’ll have that opportunity early to decide whether they want to do that as well or not.”

The tentative eight-year labour deal would allow top players to make more than $500,000 while the average salary — $130,000 — surpasses six figures for the first time.

The deal also guarantees full salaries while on maternity leave plus childcare benefits, enhanced travel standards, along with other health and wellness benefits.

“It’s a milestone agreement that is taking us steps in the right direction, and I’m hoping it won’t be great just for women’s basketball, but for women’s sports in general,” said Canadian Kayla Alexander, a centre for the Chicago Sky.

The deal still won’t pay women even close to what men make — the average NBA salary is $7.7 million — but it tells women that “I can have a decent lifestyle and I can make a decent living, I can have a decent work environment and work setting that I can be successful and compete at a high level,” said Alexander, a native of Milton, Ont.

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