The WNBA issued a three game suspension to Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner for her role in an on-court fight that broke out midway through the fourth quarter of last Saturday night’s game with the Dallas Wings.
A two-game suspension has also been handed to Dallas Wings forwards Kristine Anigwe and Kayla Thornton. Dallas guard Kaela Davis and Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi each received a one-game suspension and $500 fine for leaving their respective benches.
Bethany Donaphin, Head of WBNA League Operations, announced that Griner has received “a three-game suspension for throwing punches, escalating the incident and pushing Thornton’s face with an open hand.”
Anigwe was suspended for two games for “instigating the initial altercation and for taking an open-handed swing at Griner.” Thornton also received a two-game suspension for “escalating the altercation.”
Davis’s suspension will begin on Aug. 18. Taurasi will serve her one-game suspension once she’s cleared.
Here is a video of the scuffle:
As we reported at the time, during the scuffle, referees called no fouls, only taking action to restrain Griner as she pursued Anigwe. Taurasi and other players left the Mercury bench in defense of their teammate. Refs spent ten minutes reviewing the incident before deciding to eject players.
Griner said that the WBNA’s response could impact her future in the league. She said:
”I’m not doing it for the money because we don’t make enough and they want to fine me for every little thing. 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).”
”How they handle this will determine a lot about the future. 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’s contract with Phoenix is in its final year. AZCentral.com says that she’s exaggerating when she says that she’s not making any money due to fines. The publication writes:
“Griner, WNBA scoring leader, six-time All-Star and league MVP contender, is making close to the league maximum $115,000 with the Mercury this season. She makes a seven-figure salary with her Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA’s offseason.”
At the time of the incident, Taurasi said:
”When you have referees that can’t handle situations and let situations get to that point. I mean, [Britney Griner] pretty much gets beat up every single game. The minute she steps on the floor, she basically gets physically abused and a person can just take so much. I think she’s been doing a great job of being poised and just playing her game, (but) when you get hit in the face and the refs aren’t willing to protect you night in and night out, you’ve got to protect yourself. They definitely don’t pay you enough money to not protect yourself in this league and Britney Griner has a lot of stake playing all around the world and if this leave feels like it shouldn’t protect their players by letting a lot of things go during the game — and I’ve obviously watched a lot of games this year because I haven’t been playing and this is the most physical (the league has) been in a long time and when you say you want things to be free flowing and you want freedom of movement and then you see people just physically hitting each other the whole game through the year, things like this will keep happening.”