She denies directing it to any of her players.
The Los Angeles Sparks have a zero-tolerance rule when it comes to their administrative staff using certain words, and the team's Executive Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler learned that the hard way. The controversy began after the Sparks were knocked out of the WNBA semifinals, an event that sent Toler over the edge.
According to reports, Toler—who has acted as GM since 1999 and has three WNBA championships under her belt—stormed into the locker room and unleashed an angry rant onto her team, allegedly dropping the n-word repeatedly. Toler insisted that she didn't actually call anyone the n-word, but she didn't deny that she said it. "I'm not saying that I couldn't have used it in a context," she told ESPN. "But it wasn't directed at any of my players...It's unfortunate I used that word. I shouldn't. Nobody should...But you know, like I said, I'm not here to defend word by word by word what I said. I know some of the words that I'm being accused of are embellished. Did I give a speech that I hoped would get our team going? Yes."
"I think that this whole conversation has been taken out of context because when we lose, emotions are running high and, unfortunately, and obviously, some people feel some type of way," Toler added. She was promptly fired and WNBA commissioner Cather Engelbert stated that the league is a diverse, "inclusive and respectful environment." No one, of any ethnic background, can use the word, in their opinion.