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Phoenix still evaluating travel plans, after Brittany Griner was harassed at airport

Phoenix still evaluating travel plans, after Brittany Griner was harassed at airport


Brittney Griner and the Phoenix Mercury’s first two road trips have put the travel issues facing her and the league back in the spotlight.

For the Mercury’s season-opening weekend trip to Los Angeles the team traveled on a business jet that didn’t require the Phoenix travel party to go through the commercial part of the airport.

Last week, the team took a flight to Texas and then Indiana, requiring Griner and her Mercury to teammates go through commercial airports. While going through the Dallas airport on Saturday, the All-Star center was harassed at the Dallas airport by a social media “provocateur.”

That has led the Mercury saying they will re-evaluate their travel plans going forward, though it is still unclear what adjustments will be.

The league doesn’t allow teams to routinely use charter flights, though taking a flight that is on any airline’s scheduled routes between cities is not considered a charter flight by the WNBA. By the definition, the Mercury — who did not create their own route/flight to California — did not violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement by using the business jet to play the Sparks.

The exception for teams to use charter flights is when they play back-to-back games.

The league said Griner’s security has been an ongoing concern since before the season began. League officials were talking with Mercury officials and the All-Star center’s representatives about how to protect Griner and her teammates following the highly publicized legal case during which she was detained in Russia.

The league granted Griner permission to book her own charter flights before the season started.

Mercury star Diana Taurasi said after the team’s game against Indiana on Sunday that the situation was unfortunate since it was the first time the team had flown together in public.

“The safety of everyone comes first; basketball is secondary to all that,” said Taurasi, the league’s all-time scoring leader said. “People have families, kids and to be put in that situation really is pretty disrespectful not only to BG but to our team, to the league.”

Phoenix, which was ranked eighth in this week’s AP WNBA power poll, is back on the road this week. After a home game on Tuesday, the Mercury play at Washington and then at New York.


Las Vegas remained the atop the AP WNBA Poll for the fifth straight week. Connecticut and New York followed the Aces. Washington and Dallas were fourth and fifth. Chicago and Los Angeles were next in front of the Mercury. Atlanta, Indiana, Minnesota and Seattle rounded out the poll.


Griner has continued to have a stellar start to the season. She’s averaging 22.7 points, third best in the WNBA. She’s also pulling down 7.1 rebounds and rejecting 2.7 shots a game.


Seattle and Minnesota retired the jerseys of future Hall of Fame players Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles on Sunday. The pair retired last season as the WNBA’s all-time leading assist leader and rebounding leader.


Sabrina Ionescu averaged 29.5 points, five rebounds and five assists to help New York win both its games last week and earn AP Player of the Week honors. She had a career-high 37 points, including 20 in the second quarter in the Liberty’s win over Atlanta last Friday. Ionescu edged out Connecticut’s DeWanna Bonner, who had a career-best 41 points to hand Las Vegas its first loss of the season. Other players receiving votes included Shakira Austin of Washington, Arike Ogunbowale of Dallas and A’ja Wilson of Las Vegas.


Minnesota at Los Angeles, Friday. The Sparks will look for a measure of revenge when the two teams tip-off for the second time in five days. The Lynx rallied from a late 11-point deficit to beat the Sparks on Sunday, on a night they retired former star Sylvia Fowles’ jersey.

TOP PHOTO: FILE – Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (42) gets high-fives from Mercury guards Moriah Jefferson (8) and Sophie Cunningham, left, during the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Chicago Sky, Sunday, May 21, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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