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Though It Is a “Life and Death” Situation, WNBA Legend Gives American Basketball a Bitter Pill to Swallow About Russia and Brittney Griner

Published 10/18/2022, 8:30 AM EDT

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WNBA stars like Brittney Griner play overseas basketball during the offseason to earn some more money. The safety of the women who play overseas has become a concern after the detainment of Griner in Russia. Even though she was arrested for the possession of cannabis, people do not have the same confidence to play abroad, especially in Russia. This season, players in the WNBA have decided to boycott playing in Russia. The ones who were playing for Russian teams have switched to teams in various other leagues in the world.

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WNBA superstar Nneka Ogwumike recently talked about players going overseas to play. She played college basketball for Stanford for four years and joined the league one year before Griner did. The Los Angeles Sparks selected Ogwumike as the first overall pick in the 2012 WNBA draft. She hit the ground running and won the Rookie of the Year award. In 2016, she won the regular season MVP award and led the LA Sparks to a championship.


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Like Griner, she played in the Russian Premier League for WBC Dynamo Kursk from 2014 to 18. She helped them win the Euro League trophy in 2017. Before her stint in Russia, she played for CCC Polkowice in the Polish league.

Ogwumike talks about Brittney Griner and others playing overseas

Nneka Ogwumike talked about going overseas to play and stated that it’s a “supplement” and also talked about equality in pay for women in sports. She said, “Going overseas to play is a supplement. Not necessarily a complement to what we want back home, as far as compensation and salary goes. And that’s the headline of inequities when it comes to women in sport.”


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Ogwumike noted she had great success on and off the court playing four seasons in Russia. She added that it’s really sad that the players have to risk their health and safety “to be paid their value.” Ogwumike said, “So I don’t want it to continue to be what feels like a life and death situation when people are making decisions to just live out their dreams.”


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The salary of WNBA players has been one of the major talking points in recent times. Especially after the Brittney Griner situation. As per reports, the league average of salaries in the WNBA is $102,751 among 151 athletes. The highest earners in the WNBA are Jewell Loyd, Breanna Stewart, and Diana Taurasi who earn $228,094 each. Griner is among the list of second most paid athletes in the league with $227,900.

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Written by:

Bagavathi Eswaran


One take at a time

Bagavathi Eswaran is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He has been playing the game of basketball for more than 20 years now and has also been following the NBA for more than 10 years. After not being able to go pro, this former college player decided to join the IT industry.
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