Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner suspended three games for role in near-brawl; Diana Taurasi also fined, suspended

Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner has been suspended three games for her role in a near-brawl over the weekend during a game against the Dallas Wings, the WNBA announced on Tuesday morning. 

In addition, Wings forwards Kristine Anigwe and Kayla Thornton have been suspended two games, while Wings guard Kaela Davis and Mercury legend Diana Taurasi have each been suspended for one game and fined $500. Mercury forward DeWanna Bonner has also been fined $500. 

Griner 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 her role in escalating the altercation.

Taurasi, who is sidelined with a back injury, will serve her suspension in the first game she is medically cleared to play in. Davis will also not serve her suspension immediately, as doing so would leave the Wings, who are already shorthanded due to injuries, with less than the minimum eight players dressed to play.

Late on Monday evening, Griner said that how the WNBA responded to the incident would determine a lot about her future in the league. She spoke to the Arizona Republic, lamenting a lack of protection from referees, and her low salary. 

"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 was one of six players ejected on Saturday night as a result of the fracas that started after she got tangled up with Dallas Wings rookie Kristine Anigwe. The situation started when Griner and Anigwe got physical in the paint. Griner chased Anigwe after appearing to be struck by the rookie following a made basket. Anigwe quickly retreated from Griner as teammates flocked in to get between the two.

When the tensions calmed, officials consulted replay to determine which players were to be reprimanded for their roles in the altercation. Griner and Anigwe were both thrown out of the game, as were Diana Taurasi and Briann January of the Mercury and Kayla Thornton and Kaela Davis of the Wings. Several of those ejections came as a result of players leaving the bench area to get involved in the extracurriculars. 

Griner didn't speak after the game but Taurasi, who wasn't playing due to injury, addressed the media and explained why she felt compelled to get involved. 

"Today I went on the court to make sure my teammate didn't get jumped," Taurasi said. "(Griner) got punched in the face and then someone ran on her back and threw punches at her face. I would do that 100 times out of 100 times."

It feels tough to call this one a brawl considering it didn't quite get to that point, but it certainly wasn't for lack of effort on Griner's part. This could have gotten a lot uglier had others not stepped in.

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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