Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner was given the largest suspension of the five players disciplined by the WNBA after a near-brawl in a game against the Dallas Wings.
Her three games is the largest since a 2008 fight in which 11 were suspended. And while Griner said in an interview with The Athletic’s Alexis Mansanarez on Wednesday she accepts the consequences, she also takes issue with people casting judgement when she tried to prevent the situation.
Griner: WNBA officials won’t protect me
Griner said she tried to be proactive with the officials, but nothing happened “so why waste my breath and my time.” She said she’s done the same before, but there’s only so far she can go before an official gives her a technical.
“It never happens, so I’m just gonna shut up and be quiet at this point. I might as well be silent and hope the league, hope the officials can take it into their hands and protect me, but if I’m looking at the track record, it’s not gonna happen, and it sucks.”
Anigwe, who pulled Griner’s arm in the paint and threw the first punch, was given a two-game suspension by the league. At 6-foot-4, it’s more difficult for her to match up with the physical, demanding presence of 6-foot-9 Griner.
Griner said she accepts the punishment, but what makes her angry is that it wasn’t equal punishment for Anigwe and Kayla Thornton.
What would you do in Griner’s situation?
Griner, a six-time all-star, said it might suck for the game and those watching but she would make every call as a ref. Both she and teammate Diana Taurasi have called what Griner goes through on the court “getting abused.”
The blame has been on Griner for chasing after Anigwe, but she wonders if others would actually practice what they preach if given the chance.
“I would love to see what you do in my situation, and if your answer is, ‘I would turn around and let the league handle it,’ then s---, you don’t need to be playing basketball,” Griner said Tuesday after practice. “You need to go to something where you’re by yourself, or you’re lying.”
Griner, 28, told The Arizona Republic after the fight she gets fined for “every little thing” because it’s always her the officials see instead of the precursor to her action. She said her future will depend on how the league handles the fight, given that she could make more overseas and doesn’t want to play for a league she feels can’t protect her.
A suspension larger than that of Anigwe, even given the video review to see the Wings player’s transgression in the first place, won’t help keep the league’s leading scorer stateside. And if it is a growing issue, as Griner has indicated, it’s not only the former Baylor star who will consider it.
Add it to new commissioner Cathy Engelbert’s to-do list as the WNBA juggles CBA negotiations, issues around pay and year-round play and now stars speaking out in strict terms about an inability to protect them.
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