Brittney Griner: WNBA’s response to brawl ‘will determine a lot about the future’

Brittney Griner says her future in the WNBA will stem from how the league handles the messy brawl she was involved in Saturday.

The Phoenix Mercury center said her love for her team is keeping her rooted in the WNBA, but if she doesn’t feel protected, she will consider her future.

“How they handle this will determine a lot about the future,” Griner said, via USA Today, on Monday. “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.”

The fight started in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against the Wings, when Dallas rookie Kristine Anigwe jerked Griner’s arm, then hit her on the head. Incensed, Griner tried to punch Anigwe, which led to the benches for both teams clearing.

Six players were ejected, including Griner and Anigwe. The WNBA reviewed the incident and Tuesday announced Griner has been suspended three games. Anigwe was suspended for two games and Dallas’ Kayla Thornton was banned for two games.

Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi and Dallas forward Kaela Davis each were suspended one game and given a $500 fine, while Bonner was fined $500.

Griner said she and Anigwe have had issues before, stemming from games on July 12 and Aug. 1. While Griner doesn’t fault Anigwe for trying to make a name for herself and being physical, she said a line was crossed and the league didn’t do anything to prevent the situation from escalating.

“Everybody is human,” Griner said. “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. It could have been nipped in the bud in that second game in Connecticut when I got that flagrant. I told the referee before she (Anigwe, then with the Sun) checked in to watch us because we had previous stuff in the last game.

“I didn’t do it the other night because clearly it didn’t work so what’s the point of even saying it again. What good is it going to do when you try to be proactive about something and it doesn’t work?”

Griner said she was going to take her punishment like an adult, but added that Thornton should get the biggest suspension after she tried to punch Griner, even though she wasn’t involved when the fight started.

She also said at the end of the day, the league’s loyalty to its players and how little they are paid compared to their male and international counterparts will play a huge role in her future with the WNBA. 

“I’m not doing it for the money because we don’t make enough and they want to fine me for every little thing,” Griner said. “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).”