WNBA players shun Russia after Griner jailed for nine years

Brittney Griner’s jailed in Russia and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have prompted the WNBA players to play this off-season in another place.

For the past few decades, most of the WBNA players in their off-season went to Russia to play because the players can earn seven-figure sums playing in Russia. The players can earn salaries up to $1 million and get better resources and amenities while playing in Russia. 

Since Griner’s jailed and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, most WNBA players said, ‘It’s hard to think it’s safe. Due to these reasons, the WNBA players will shun playing in Russia this year. 

Breanna Stewart, who played alongside Griner in Russia for UMMC Ekaterinburg, said, Honestly, my time in Russia has been wonderful, but especially Brittney is still wrongfully detained there, and nobody’s going to go there until she’s home.

Brittney was arrested in February, then detained and later convicted on drug possession charges, and last month she was sentenced to nine years in prison.

WNBA players, including Stewart, Jonquel Jones, and Courtney Vandersloot, are going elsewhere this winter. Previously, These three players made millions of dollars playing for Ekaterinburg, but now they have changed their decision.

Stewart is going to Turkey to play for Fenerbahçe after the World Cup Tournament, and she can only earn a hundred thousand dollars which is less than their Russian salaries. 

Jones is also joining Stewart in Turkey to play for Mersin, and she would consider going back to Russia if things change politically and Griner was back in the US.

Vandersloot is choosing to play in Hungary, where she obtained citizenship in 2016, and isn’t heading back to Russia. WNBA Rookie of the year 2022, Rhyne Howard, is playing in Italy this winter.

The Griner and Ukraine situation is weighing heavily on the minds of WNBA players, and because of that, WNBA players are considering playing their off-season somewhere else.

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