One episode in and it’s already getting started on Basketball Wives LA. It’s cool, Tanya, don’t get up.
Basketball Wives LA isn’t quite a spin-off, it’s like an extended branch of a family tree, but like every other television show that was somehow based on something that came before it, it has quite the reputation to live up to, for better or worse. Many of the issues that come up for the Miami cast (“Why do you fight so much?” “How can you call yourselves wives?” “How do your ears not fall off under the weight of those hoops?”) are brought up in L.A. as well, but after seeing a few episodes of this show, I can safely say these women are completely different from Miami. For better or worse. Let’s meet them, shall we?
Everyone already knows Gloria Govan, fiancee of Matt Barnes, arch rival of Shaunie O’Neal (at least back in the day), and exiled wife who just couldn’t take it anymore.
But she’s back on TV and looking to meet a new group of women who aren’t “s— -starting girls.” Such good intentions, this one! Gloria’s been taking acting classes in L.A. because it’s a rule that if you move to Southern California, you must at least try your hand at show business. Gloria meets her acting partner and fellow cast member, Draya, in class. We’ll get to Draya in a minute.
Gloria’s sister Laura‘s reputation might precede her because she’s one of the reasons that Gloria had such a difficult time on season one in Miami. “There was a rumor that I was sleeping with someone famous,” Laura says. “And then I had a big public breakup, and then I had to move across country and I’ve had all these things going on in my life on top of having a baby.” So you’ve been busy, is what you’re saying. I have to admit, Laura is softer-spoken and funnier than I expected, although, clearly, she has anger issues which can be ignited at any moment. Malaysia Pargo can speak to that.
Malaysia is married to Jannero Pargo who plays for Chicago, and she was born and raised in Compton, CA. I like Malaysia but like all the other women, I don’t get the jewelry line for children. When I was growing up, that was called charm necklaces and Ring Pops. So I get why the women consider her bougie.
Kimsha Artest might be the biggest member of anti-Malaysia contingent. Hailing from South Jamaica Queens, Kimsha is the partner of
Metta World Peace Ron Artest and she, how do I put this delicately? Doesn’t give a f—. As soon as the women all meet and sit down to dinner, she immediately launches an anti-LA attack. “LA is not my scene. Overrated,” she tells the girls, while telling those of us at home “I don’t dig LA.. cause these bitches is f—in’ bougie and Botoxed
and their boobs sittin’ up like this.”
Malaysia takes offense to Kimsha’s assessment of her city, so I’m pretttty sure this is going to be an East Coast-West Coast battle this season.
Imani Showalter, ex-fiancee of Stephen Jackson, is also a recent transplant to L.A. but she doesn’t have quite the aversion to it that Kimsha does. But she’s also trying to determine what Malaysia’s deal is too, because she can instantly tell that Malaysia’s not meshing 100%. “There were a couple of side-eyes and a couple of rolled eyes like, I don’t know, out of boredom” Imani says about Malaysia, and she and all the other women are taken aback when Malaysia leaves abruptly.
The day after the introductory group dinner, a few of the ladies meet for introductory group drinks to meet Tanya Williams, who is an inspirational speaker and the estranged wife of Jayson Williams, and Jackie Christie, who has been married to player Doug Christie for seventeen years.
I’m just putting this out there: Does anyone get a good vibe from Tanya?
Because I can’t take it. Imani describes her as “I am the wise one and I am here to tell you!” and Gloria says she’s “kind of like Confucius.” And I say it’s kind of intolerable. Kimsha knows what I’m talking about.
As for Jackie, she explains that she and Doug get remarried every year (not just vow renewal, but remarried). She explains that she faced a lot of criticism for choosing “to walk our own path” but hell, they have seventeen years of marriage to show for it, so who cares?
Finally, we meet Draya Michele, acting partner, model, and groupie-jumpoff, the species which is the natural enemy to these wives. Pretty sure that watching Draya meet the other women will be like watching a poor gazelle get eaten alive by a lion on the savannah. Even though Draya hits it off with Gloria, you can tell she’s not going to be these girls’ BFF. (Do I smell a Royce in the group?) Draya explains “I’ve dated a couple athletes…Once you date one, two, or three, you start to get a reputation which I don’t think is fair.” Well, which is though, one or three? Because there’s a difference.
Now that we’ve met all the ladies (finally tally: two actual wives, two former fiancees, one actual fiancee, one groupie, and two estranged/ambiguous wife/partnerships), let’s talk about the drama. It’s clear that Kimsha and Malaysia aren’t going to be friends, and that spiritual Tanya isn’t letting anyone see her real spirit, but the real beef here is between Malaysia and Laura. In a matter of seconds Malaysia went from eating her chopsticky salad and defending her character to trying to ram her fedora down Laura’s throat. All while Tanya stoically BBM’d her friends from the Personal Growth Workshop.
Like their Miami predecessors, it seems these women have a lot of layers to them (including a layer that constantly gets them thrown out of nice eating establishments), and we’ve only just begun to peel them back. Will Kimsha’s assessment that L.A. folks are phony ring true, or will these women redefine for us what it’s like to be a basketball wife? We have nine more episodes to find out.