Brittney Griner, Kristine Anigwe, Kayla Thornton Suspended for Roles in Fight

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 13, 2019

PHOENIX, AZ- AUGUST 10: Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury looks on during the game against the Dallas Wings on August 10, 2019 at the Talking Stick Resort Arena, in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE  (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)
Michael Gonzales/Getty Images

The WNBA announced the suspensions stemming from an altercation involving Brittney Griner and Kristine Anigwe during the Dallas Wings' 80-77 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Saturday. 

Griner and Anigwe are suspended for three and two games, respectively. Wings forward Kayla Thornton is suspended for two games, while Mercury guard Diana Taurasi and Wings forward Kaela Davis each received a one-game suspension and a $500 fine.

The incident occurred in the fourth quarter after Griner and Anigwe were jostling for position on a rebound.

After the game, Taurasi defended her teammate, arguing officials generally aren't doing enough to whistle for fouls committed against the All-Star center, per The Athletic's Alexis Mansanarez:

"When you have referees that can't handle situations and let situations get to that point—I mean, BG 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."

The Mercury have been one of the league's bigger disappointments and sit eighth in the standings, three games ahead of the Indiana Fever for the final playoff spot.

Losing Griner for three games and Taurasi for one shouldn't send Phoenix tumbling out of a postseason seed, but it makes climbing into the top four even more difficult. The Mercury are likely looking at a first-round single-elimination game for the fourth straight season.

The saga could have far-reaching consequences for Phoenix and the WNBA as a whole, however.

Griner said Monday she might have to weigh her long-term commitment to the league based on its response to her fight with Anigwe, per the Arizona Republic's Jeff Metcalfe: "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?"

Griner is among the players who makes vastly more money playing overseas than she does starring in the WNBA. According to High Post Hoops, the 28-year-old is earning $115,000 for the 2019 season and becomes a free agent at the end of the season. 

At least during the 2015-16 European season, Griner collected slightly less than $1 million from Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg, per ESPN The Magazine's Kate Fagan

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