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Top WNBA players are turning down high salaries and opting not to play in Russia to protest Brittney Griner's imprisonment — eyeing other countries like Turkey and Hungary instead: report

INSIDER 9/24/2022 (Taylor Ardrey)
Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner sits on bench during WNBA Finals. Rick Scuteri/AP © Provided by INSIDER Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner sits on bench during WNBA Finals. Rick Scuteri/AP
  • Top WNBA players have decided not to play in Russia during the offseason this year, despite high-earnings. 
  • Breanna Stewart, Courtney Vandersloot, and Jonquel Jones will play in other countries like Turkey and Hungary.
  • Brittney Griner was sentenced to 9 years in prison in Russia this past August. 

WNBA players are deciding not to play in Russia during the offseason amid Brittney Griner's imprisonment in the country — eyeing other countries, like Turkey and Hungary, instead. 

Breanna Stewart, Courtney Vandersloot, and Jonquel Jones, all of who have played for Russia's UMMC Ekaterinburg team with Griner, are opting out of playing in the country this winter, according to The Associated Press, despite the potential to earn millions hooping there.

Stewart told the outlet that players don't want to play in Russia until Griner, the WNBA superstar who was recently sentenced to 9 years behind bars, is free. 

"Honestly, my time in Russia has been wonderful, but especially with BG still wrongfully detained there, nobody's going to go there until she's home," Stewart, who is going to play in Turkey,  told the AP. "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 called attention to the low salaries WNBA players receive in America compared to overseas where they could command higher pay. According to Insider's Meredith Cash, The Pheonix Mercury center was expected to take home about $227,900 this year, while she is able to rack up $1 million with Ekaterinburg per season. 

Like Stewart, Jones is also set to play in Turkey, and Vandersloot decided to play in Hungary for the offseason, according to the Associated Press. 

"The whole situation with BG makes it really hard to think that it's safe for anyone to go back there right now," Vandersloot told the publication. 

The two-time Olympic medalist was detained at a Moscow airport in February after officials said they found vapes with cannabis oil in her luggage. Her arrest came amid Russia's war with Ukraine. Griner pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges and was later sentenced to 9 years in prison

Her fellow WNBA colleagues, politicians, and her family have been calling for her return back to the US. The White House previously offered a proposal to swap Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and Paul Whelan, an ex-US Marine whose been detained in Russia. 

Earlier this month, her wife, Cherelle, met with President Joe Biden and National Security adviser Jake Sullivan about bringing Griner back home. 

"I've felt every minute of the grueling seven months without her. I look forward to the day my wife is back home," Cherelle said in a statement. "As my family and I continued on this journey, I'd like to thank the broad coalition of friends, leaders, and supporters who continued to stand with us to advocate for Brittney's swift and safe return."

Read the original article on Insider
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