Brittney Griner Takes 32% Pay Cut For Love Of The Game In Comeback Season After Russian Detention

After 10 months in a Russian prison, Brittney Griner is making her highly anticipated return to the basketball court. As part of her newly signed one-year contract with the Phoenix Mercury, Griner’s team for the past decade, the WNBA superstar is facing a significant salary decrease. 

Business Insider reported that Griner’s $165,100 contract is a 32% drop from last season’s offer, but that she accepted it to help re-sign WNBA’s all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and six-time WNBA All-Star, had been making close to the maximum possible salary for the three seasons prior to her arrest in Russia last February for possession of less than a gram of cannabis oil. She was also eligible for a $234,936 supermax this season.

WNBA Players Accept Less Pay To Create Better Teams

Alas, Griner is not alone in taking a pay cut to help create what is known as a "super team."

Just Women's Sports reported that other pro basketball players, including prized free agent Breanna Stewart who took “substantially less” money from the New York Liberty in order to create a super team. Brionna Jones and Candace Parker are also accepting less pay to boost their teams' talent.

Despite the pay cuts, the WNBA's league salary cap this year is only $17 million, while the NBA's league cap sits at $134 million. The WNBA has been striving for pay parity with their male counterparts, and while there has been some progress, there is still a long way to go.

This Is Why WNBA Players Went To Russia During The Off Season: Huge Salaries

Griner was reportedly making $1 million annually as a player for Russia’s UMMC Yekaterinburg. Taurasi also played for the same Russian team for the same salary but stopped in 2017.

Griner was sixth on the salary list of players; the lowest-paid WNBA player's salary is $60,471.

Compare those earnings to NBA salaries such as Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who tops the salary list at over $45 million a year. The NBA player whose salary comes closest to Griner and Taurasi’s is the Boston Celtics' Malik Fitts, who ranks No. 488 on the NBA list. This was Fitts' first season in the NBA while Griner has been in the WNBA for ten years and Taurasi is going on 19 years. 

So, yes, there is still a way to go to achieve even the slightest pay parity.

The Phoenix Mercury's season will kick off on May 19 with a game against the Los Angeles Sparks. Fans will undoubtedly be celebrating Griner's return to the court and the creation of a powerful "super team" will hopefully signal a bright future for women's basketball.

Photo: Twitter @PhoenixMercury

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Posted In: CannabisNewsSportsMarketsGeneralBreanna StewartBrittney GrinerDiana TaurasiNBApay disparitiesRussiaWBNA
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