The head coach of the Phoenix Mercury, the team Brittney Griner plays for, is facing backlash and mockery over her ridiculous expectations.
On Friday, Griney played her first WNBA match since her return from Russia, where she’d been incarcerated for breaking the law.
The problem, according to head coach Vanessa Nygaard, is that not enough people showed up to watch the game.
“It was great, but like honestly, come on LA. We didn’t sell out the arena for BG. Like, I expected more. You know, to be honest, like it was great, it was loud, but how was it not a sellout? how was it not a sellout?” she told reporters following the game.
After Brittney Griner played in her first WNBA game last night since coming home from prison in Russia, Phoenix Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard was angry Los Angeles didn’t sellout the arena for her return:
“How was it not a sellout??”pic.twitter.com/b2GgnsjlIN
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) May 21, 2023
The mockery was swift and deafening.
People still don’t understand no one likes the WNBA
— StepBackJay (@StepBackJay77) May 21, 2023
Because nobody likes Britney Griner and they want to trade her for the war hero that is currently still in Russia.
— Stop Watching TV (@kommiefornia) May 21, 2023
Related: Why have most WNBA teams moved from NBA arenas to much smaller capacity facilities?
Answer: No one watches the WNBA.
— MarkHyman (@MarkHyman) May 21, 2023
It wasn’t a sellout and never has been because, shocker, not a lot of people want to spend money to watch some unathletic women jog up and down the court and brick shots for 40 minutes.
— Malcolm Davis (@MalcolmDavisGA) May 21, 2023
She got bailed out by the country that she hated, we should celebrate her for that? I don’t think anyone should die in a Russian Gulag, but why would we need to celebrate this?
— Ken Swift (@kenswift) May 21, 2023
No one cares about “BG” or the NBA.
Those people have convinced themselves that they are FAR more valuable and important than they actually are. They live in a fiction made up in their own minds.
— Attas (@txintel101) May 21, 2023
The reasons for the mockery were numerous.
For one, the WNBA isn’t exactly known for is impressive talent, ergo why the league has never been that particularly popular.
Case in point:
I mean… I guess there is some entertainment value here. pic.twitter.com/ZslgxnQRiw
— Jeremy Redfern (@JeremyRedfernFL) May 21, 2023
Also, there is a sense of resentment in America over Griner’s release.
As previously reportedly, Griner was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison after she was caught bringing what is essentially liquid marijuana (vapable marijuana) into the country.
Following her sentencing, the Biden administration began negotiating with Russia to secure her release. Eventually the administration reached a deal whereby it’d exchange notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for her.
The exchange occurred on Dec. 8th of 2022, prompting anger from critics for several key reasons, including the fact that the administration was willing to give up a very notorious figure for a basketball player.
Critics were also bothered because the Biden administration chose to prioritize securing Griner’s release while ignoring Paul Whelan, a U.S. Marine who’s been jailed in Russia since 2018 on bogus charges of spying.
This leads to the third reason for mockery and backlash: Griner’s anti-Americanism. Back in 2020, she came out against the National Anthem.
“Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner does not believe the National Anthem should be played before WNBA games and will not be on the floor if it is,” The Arizona Republic reported at the time.
“Griner made her comments during a teleconference Monday, two days after the Mercury’s opening game at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Players were not on the floor for the anthem during that game, honoring the late Breonna Taylor, other victims of police brutality and Black Lives Matter,” the Republic added.
Speaking in her own words, she said, “I honestly feel we should not play the National Anthem during our season. I think we should take that much of a stand. I don’t mean that in any disrespect to our country. My dad was in Vietnam and a law officer for 30 years. I wanted to be a cop before basketball. I do have pride for my country.”
That being said, her attitude has since changed:
WNBA player Brittney Griner, who previously protested national anthem, said ‘Star Spangled Banner’ ‘hit different’ after being freed from Russia. She stood for the anthem on May 12, 2023. pic.twitter.com/UUzJOhHZtJ
— Dom Lucre | Breaker of Narratives (@dom_lucre) May 19, 2023
“I’m grateful to be here, that’s for sure. I’m not going to take a day for granted. Hearing the national anthem, it definitely hit different,” she told reporters after her first game back.
“It’s like when you go for the Olympics, you’re sitting there, about to get gold put on your neck, the flags are going up, and the anthem is playing, it just hits different,” she added.
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