Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner is one of many still waiting for a likely suspension stemming from a massive brawl in their game against the Dallas Wings on Saturday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Griner, along with Diana Taurasi, Briann January, Kristine Anigwe, Kayla Thorton and Kaela Davis were all ejected after punches were thrown after a physical play in the paint between Griner and Anigwe in the fourth quarter.
Though Griner is easily one of the best in league — the six-time All-Star is currently the league’s leading scorer, averaging nearly 20 points per game — she made it clear on Monday in her first comments since the fight that the WNBA isn’t her only option.
"I'm not (playing here) for the money because we don't make enough and they want to fine me for every little thing," Griner said, via the Arizona Republic. "I'm getting techs for protecting myself in games and flagrants because they always only see me. They never see anything beforehand. I'm basically not getting paid this summer already (due to fines)."
Griner is one of the highest-paid players in the league, making close to the league maximum of $115,000 with the Mercury. However she currently boasts a seven-figure salary with UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia, where she plays — like many other WNBA players — during the offseason.
The 28-year-old is set to be a free agent after this season, too. Though leaving the league completely for another overseas may sound like a wild idea, it has been done before — and could be a viable option for Griner.
How the league handles this latest brawl, and the future of the organization in Phoenix, has a lot do to with Griner’s future plans in the WNBA. After all, she said she’s only still in the league due to her love of the Mercury.
“How they handle this will determine a lot about the future," Griner said, via the Arizona Republic. “Because how can I fight for some league that doesn't even want to protect their players? “They better hope our coaches and GM [Jim Pitman] don't go anywhere and DB [DeWanna Bonner] plays here forever. Because I'll be done in a heartbeat if I was anywhere else.”
Griner ready to accept the consequences
The WNBA currently has a one-game minimum suspension for any player who leaves the bench area during a fight — which several players involved in the fight on Saturday night did. It’s currently investigating the incident, though has not yet handed down any punishments.
Griner knows that, at least for the immediate future, she only has one option.
"I've just got to take it," Griner said, via the Arizona Republic. "I'm an adult so I know there's consequences. I've apologized to my teammates, coaches and GM (also to official Smith after the game). They're all supportive of me. That's going to hurt. Hopefully the suspensions aren't crazy."
While she admits that she may have taken it too far in the fight, Griner still doesn’t regret defending herself on the court.
"Everybody is human," Griner said, via the Arizona Republic. "It's so easy to sit in your office and say there's no place for that. I'm sorry I wasn't raised like that. My dad is military and law enforcement. You don't turn the cheek. I was always taught you turn your head at somebody coming after you, you're going to get hit in the back of the head or worse.
"I was probably wrong for how much I did. I wish it wouldn't have got there.”