Because they don't have to ride on Russian trains to get to a game.
But current WNBA stars do. And they have to brave Russian winters as well.
Click here to read former UConn and current Seattle Storm star Sue Bird's diary about her experiences in Russia. Her positive attitude is infectious.
Why do these stars go abroad to play? Two reasons, mainly. First, it's the money thing. The Europeans pay good money to women's hoop stars to play over there. Second, it's the competition. I once heard Larry Brown talk to a bunch of HS kids about how to get better, and his simply eloquent advice was, "play every day." His sales pitch was that somewhere out there kids are playing every day and automatically improving, so if you want to improve, you should do the same thing. In order to keep honing their craft, the WNBA players need to seek out the best competition.
I couldn't imagine some current NBA players going over to Russia, not staying in top hotels, and sleeping in the bottom bunk of a Russian train. Then again, they don't have to, although I'm sure that some of the guys at the end of the bench who have played in other countries have some interesting travel tales of their own.
It's always fun to read about what Sue Bird's up to, because she always has a smile on her face. In contrast, while Barry Bonds had a smile on his face (and if I were his media advisor, I would advise him to use it more often), he's seldom happy, or so it seems. There are enough bad stories in sports out there right now -- the NHL lockout, steroids in baseball, the conviction of the booster who apparently bribed a HS football coach to steer his kid to a certain SEC school, the questionable quality of the NBA's product (and the public utterings of malcontents such as Latrell Sprewell) -- that it's nice to talk about a fun one.
Some players would view a winter of hoops in Russia as a trip to a Siberian gulag.
Sue Bird views it as an opportunity.