WBNA players are refusing to play in Russia during the offseason until Brittney Griner is released.
Breanna Stewart, Courtney Vandersloot, and Jonquel Jones, who all played for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg team, have decided not to play for the country. Despite possibly earning millions, the women chose to opt out until Griner is freed.
“Honestly, my time in Russia has been wonderful,” Stewart says. “But especially with BG still wrongfully detained there, nobody’s going to go there until she’s home.”
She continued, “I think that, you know, now, people want to go overseas, and if the money is not much different, they want to be in a better place.”
Griner’s detainment shined a light on the low salaries WNBA players receive in America compared to other countries. The Phoenix Mercury player was expected to earn $227,900 this year and rack up $1 million per season with Ekaterinburg.
Stewart and Jones are set to play in Turkey, while Vandersloot decided to play in Hungary for the offseason.
“The whole situation with BG makes it really hard to think that it’s safe for anyone to go back there right now,” Vandersloot says.
In February, Griner was detained at a Moscow airport after authorities found vapes with cannabis oil in her luggage. Unfortunately, the two-time Olympic medalist’s arrest came in the thick of Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Griner has since pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges and was sentenced to nine years behind bars.