When Brittney Griner was finally released from a Russian prison in the lopsided swap for the “Merchant of Death” Viktor Bout, many expected her ultimate return to America, and the WNBA would bump attendance for the sagging league.
In Phoenix’s 94-71 loss, Griner played well, logging 18 points, six rebounds, four blocks, and two assists. It was supposed to be a momentous moment for the former Baylor standout, who was making her court debut for the first time since 2021, and give a bump to attendance. The team played in a half-full arena, and coach Vanessa Nygaard was not happy. Check this out.
Brittney Griner’s WNBA coach was extremely unhappy when she looked around the Crypto.com arena and did not see a full sellout crowd for the opening game of the 2023 season.
The Phoenix Mercury opened the year on the road against the Los Angeles Sparks. While the crowd was impressive at Crypto.com Arena, it was not a sellout as they played in front of about 10,000 fans.
Because it was her return, Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard was expecting a much fuller arena.
“I mean, it was great. But like honestly, c’mon now LA. We didn’t sell out the arena for BG? Like, I expected more, you know, to be honest. Right, it was great, it was loud. But how was it not a sellout? How was it not a sellout,”
How much time do you have?
After Brittney Griner played in her first WNBA game last night since coming home from prison in Russia, Phoenix Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard was angry Los Angeles didn’t sellout the arena for her return:
“How was it not a sellout??”pic.twitter.com/b2GgnsjlIN
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) May 21, 2023
Despite all of the efforts by ESPN and the liberal sports media to convince us we should care about the WNBA, sports fans simply don’t. The bottom line is it just isn’t a compelling product.
Considering they were playing in Los Angeles, that was a pretty respectable turnout. There are simply too many other things to do on a nice, early Summer day than watch women’s basketball. Los Angeles has long had attendance issues with the Rams and the Chargers, so why would a WNBA team think featuring a largely unlikable player like Griner would make a difference in attendance? After all, she isn’t exactly a hometown hero triumphantly returning from war. She was in a Russian prison of her own doing.
She was detained in Russia and convicted on drug charges, so she missed the entire season last year. She was repatriated to the United States in December as part of a prisoner exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout.
The WNBA should be very happy with almost 10,000 fans at a game. The league has faced many obstacles besides lack of interest and name recognition, so playing to a half-full house is a step in the right direction.
Complaining about it won’t help, but a better product will. Clearly, with women’s sports, there is a ceiling, interest-wise, but that doesn’t mean the WNBA can’t find that ceiling. However, complaining like it is the fan’s fault when they don’t show up isn’t the solution. Apparently, neither is Brittney Griner.
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