WNBA stars shun Russia, 7-figure salaries amid Britney Grenier detention, Ukraine invasion

WNBA stars have spent their intervening seasons playing in the professional Russian leagues, having attracted seven-figure salaries that are well above theirs back home.

no more.

with Britney Greiner Held in a Russian prison and the war in Ukraine continues to rage, WNBA players are sitting out this season. Brianna Stewarta four-time WNBA star and former Griner’s teammate at Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg, made her decision clear To The Associated Press.

Stewart said, “Honestly, my time in Russia has been wonderful. But especially with BJ still being unjustly detained there, no one is going there until she gets home. I think people now want to go abroad, and if the money wasn’t that much different, They want to be in a better place.”

Instead, Stewart plans to play for Turkey’s Fenerbahce team. There, you’ll get a six-figure salary instead of About 1.5 million dollars She usually earns in Russia, according to the Associated Press. By comparison, the 2022 WNBA’s top salary was $228,094 with an opportunity to make more in bonuses and marketing deals. It’s easy to understand why WNBA stars make an off-season trip to Russia on a yearly basis.

But Stewart is not the only one who has avoided that opportunity this year. According to the Associated Press, none of the roughly 12 WNBA players who fit in for Russian teams last winter are planning to do so again next season.

American Basketball Player Britney Grenier Stands Against the Accused & #39;  Before a court during her trial for drug smuggling, in Khimki, outside Moscow on August 2, 2022. - Grenier was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport in February 2022 just days before Moscow launched its attack in Ukraine.  She was charged with drug smuggling for possession of cannabis oil cans.  Greiner, speaking at the trial on July 27, said she still did not know how the cartridges ended up in her bag.  (Photo by EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA / POOL / AFP via Getty Images)

Britney Greiner was recently sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison with less than one gram of cannabis oil. (Evgenia Novozhenina/AFP via Getty Images)

Fellow WNBA All-Stars and former UMMC Ekaterinburg players Jonquil Jones And the Courtney Vanderslot Including. Jones also plans to play in Turkey for Mersin. Vanderslot, who holds dual American and Hungarian citizenship and plays for the Hungary national team, plays in Hungary. You talked about the attractiveness of playing in Russia under normal circumstances.

“The thing about it is that we’ve been treated really well by our club and have built strong relationships with these people. The whole situation with BG makes it really hard to believe that it’s safe for anyone to go back there now,” Vanderslott told The Associated Press.

Russian authorities arrested Greiner after she was found with the lowest gram of cannabis oil at a Russian airport on February 17. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine. Griner has since been arrested and has been A Russian judge sentenced him to nine years in prison He was imprisoned on August 4th on charges of drug possession and drug smuggling with criminal intent. She and fellow US prisoner Paul Whelan are still at the Complex diplomatic negotiations Engaging President Joe Biden amid the backdrop of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine at the request of President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, the WNBA has made raising awareness of Griner’s plight and returning her home a priority. authorized Kathy Engelbert took up this issue ahead of the recently concluded WNBA Finals while calling Griner’s ongoing arrest “unacceptable.”

“I recently received a handwritten letter from BG, and I was inspired by her courage in the face of tremendous adversity,” Engelbert said on 9/11. Part of the WNBA family.”

Jones has addressed her decision to play instead for Turkey To the New York Times in August. While Greiner’s arrest is the primary factor, the ongoing war remains a clear deterrent.

“What makes me feel comfortable when I go back to Russia?” Jones asked. “BG is at home, first of all. Relations between the United States and Russia are improving. The war in Ukraine is over.”

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