Phoenix's Griner suspended for Wednesday's game against Sun
The Connecticut Sun conclude their four-game road trip against the Phoenix Mercury on Wednesday night. Or as least what’s left of Phoenix.
Mercury center Brittney Griner will miss the next three games after the WNBA suspended her Tuesday for her role in a fight in the Dallas-Phoenix game over the weekend that resulted in six players getting ejected. It leaves Phoenix with eight players for tonight’s game (10 p.m., Talking Stick Resort, ESPN2).
The Sun (16-8), which have lost their last two games, are tied with the Las Vegas Aces (17-9) for second in the overall standings. Phoenix (11-12) is in eighth place.
The league punished Griner for throwing punches, escalating the incident and pushing Wings forward Kayla Thornton's face with an open hand.
"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 told the 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)."
Players make more money overseas. Griner plays for international power UMMC Ekaterinburg of Russia during the WNBA offseason. Griner led UMMC to its second-straight EuroLeague Women’s championship last April and was named the Final Four MVP.
"How they handle this will determine a lot about the future," Griner told the Republic on Monday about the possibility of being suspended. "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."
Dallas forward Kristine Anigwe was suspended two games for instigating the initial altercation with Griner and taking an open-handed swing at her. Thornton also was suspended two games for her role in the scuffle.
Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi and Dallas forward Kaela Davis were suspended a game apiece for leaving the bench area during Saturday's altercation and directly engaging with the opposing team.
Taurasi has missed almost the entire season after needing offseason back surgery. She played 16 minutes against the Sun on July 12 and hasn't played since. Fellow starter Essence Carson (right calf) and reserve Sancho Lyttle (knee) are also out injured.
With 6:25 left in the fourth quarter, Griner and Anigwe got tangled up in the lane and a scuffle ensued. Griner had to be restrained by an official at midcourt, where she was still trying to get at Dallas players.
Anigwe and Thornton will begin serving their suspensions that same night when Dallas hosts the Los Angeles Sparks. Anigwe was selected ninth overall by the Sun in April's draft and was traded last week for Theresa Plaisance.
Taurasi will serve her suspension during the first game after she is medically cleared to play. Davis will miss Sunday's game, when Dallas visits Connecticut, due to the league's requirement that a team have a minimum of eight players dressed for all games. Because of injuries, the Wings are down to 10 healthy players.
Taurasi and Davis also were fined $500. Additionally, Phoenix forward DeWanna Bonner was fined $500 for escalating the incident. Briann January also was ejected from the game but wasn't punished after the league deemed she was acting as a peacemaker.