Griner accepts WNBA suspension as consequence of her actions
PHOENIX (AP) Brittney Griner says she accepts the WNBA's seven-game suspension as a consequence of her actions.
The league suspended the Phoenix Mercury's All-Star center for 20 percent of its 34-game season following her arrest in a domestic violence incident. Griner's wife Glory Johnson of the Tulsa Shock also was arrested and got the same suspension.
''I understand there are consequences for your actions,'' she said after the Mercury opened training camp on Monday. ''I accept those consequences and I'm not going to fight it.''
Griner is undergoing counseling after agreeing to a diversion program.
''I'm really getting a lot from it,'' she said, ''so it is definitely making me a better person and I'm taking full advantage of it.''
Griner and Johnson were arrested April 22 at their home in the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear. In a plea bargain, Griner pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and agreed to undergo 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling. If she completes the counseling, the charges will be dismissed.
Less than a month after their arrest, Griner and Johnson were married in a ceremony at a Phoenix resort.
''The wedding was amazing, an unreal feeling,'' Griner said. ''I was just so happy. I was smiling the whole time, crying tears of joy.''
The Mercury's second-year coach Sandy Brondello wouldn't criticize the length of the suspension.
''Look, everybody has their opinion,'' Brondello said, ''and seven games, it's a lot in that regard. But the WNBA had to make a statement. We'll just support B.G. wherever we can and make sure she's prepared when she gets back on the court.''
Teammate Candice Dupree knew a significant suspension was coming.
''I knew they were going to give her something,'' she said. ''I mean, they had to based upon what some of these other pro sports are giving their players. But I can't say that I was surprised. There's a first time for everything, so you know they were going to come down a little hard on her.''
The defending WNBA champion Mercury opened training camp minus star Diana Taurasi, who is sitting out the season to rest following a decade of virtually year-round basketball. The team also is without Penny Taylor, who is an unrestricted free agent and has not decided whether to play this season.
Add the absence of Griner and the team will open the season without its three best players.
''We've just got to keep our head above water those first seven games,'' Brondello said. ''(Then) you add a player the caliber of B.G. back into the mix, I think we're going to be very good.''
Griner has said she wants to be a role model for young gay athletes. Her arrest tarnished that role, but her reaction to it has been humble and apologetic.
''It shows a lot about B.G. You get to know her, she really is a good person,'' Brondello said. ''She's really hard working and she takes her role as a role model seriously. We've all experienced negative things in our lives. The only way we can do it is take a step forward and make sure it never happens again, and do the things you need to do. She's done everything possible to make this a one-off thing and the main goal is getting back on the court.''
The 6-foot-8 Griner spent a second season in China honing her basketball skills. She will practice with the team during her suspension.
''It's a lot of games but you can't do anything,'' she said. ''You've got to live with what you do.''