Brittney Grinner is serving a nine-year prison sentence in Russia for smuggling drugs into the country.
Grinner played was a WNBA player and, in the off-season, it was common for women to play in Russia to make more money.
It has been reported that Russia pays the athletes up to four times more than they could make in the U.S. during their playing season.
Money has been the driving force behind Grinner’s playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia since 2014 Russia.
Since Grinner’s imprisonment, some of her WNBA colleagues have opted not to play in Russia, but for at least one friend, that is not the case.
Alex Bentley said she is “really good friends” with Grinner, but she has to consider her financial situation.
Generally, the WNBA is not happy with Russia concerning Grinner but also regarding what is happening in Ukraine.
Bentley playing in Russia shows that capitalism and her financial needs are important.
Grinner’s WNBA players have spoken out in support of her and have reached out to both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for help in getting Griner released.
It has been reported that a swap for Grinner has been discussed, but no action has been taken.
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The overwhelming majority of WNBA players earn less than $250,000 per season. In fact, Jackie Young of the Las Vegas Aces is the only player in the league with an average salary over $250k, she makes $252,000. Griner, one of the best players in the league, was set to make $227,000 next season.
With this being the case, many WNBA players take their talents overseas during the WNBA offseason to earn more money. Russia is a country that can pay four times what the WNBA pays, which is exactly why Griner has played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia since 2014.
The 31-year-old Bentley last played in the WNBA in 2019 having not been able to sign a contract in the WNBA the past two seasons. Seeing as how she wants to continue to play basketball, and earn a more than livable wage, Bentley signed a one-year contract extension with UMMC Yekaterinburg.
Unlike other players refusing to play in Russia this season, Bentley clearly realizes her presence on a Russian basketball court isn’t going to change the fact that Griner is looking at nine years in prison.
While some may label Bentley’s actions as ‘betraying her good friend’ and maybe even ‘betraying the United States,’ she has to look out for herself.