Brittney Griner made her return to the WNBA this past weekend, but her coach thinks the basketball fans in Los Angeles turned their backs on the athlete.
Speaking at a news conference after her team suffered a defeat from the L.A. Sparks, Phoenix coach Vanessa Nygaard called out the absence of fans at the Crypto.com arena in Los Angeles.
In a statement, Nygaard said “Come on now, L.A.,” Nygaard said. “We didn’t sell out the arena for BG? Like, I expected more, to be honest. It was great, it was loud. But how was it not a sellout? How was it not a sellout?”
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
It was reported that nearly 10,000 people attended the game, which is actually half of the arena’s capacity.
Fans posted videos at the game where those who were actually there gave Griner a loud standing ovation during the pregame ceremonies. A tribute to the Phoenix Mercury star even played on the screens.
Welcome home, BG 🧡💜 #WNBA #basketball #PhoenixMercury #BrittneyGriner
And amongst those in attendance was actually Vice President Kamala Harris, who also visited both teams prior to the game.
Griner stated “It was nice to be able to see her face-to-face, talk to her, and thank her for everything.’ Though her team did lose the game, Griner was able to add strong stats for her team. This was the first game back for the athlete since her 10-month detainment and swap from the Russian government.
Just last month, Griner weighed in on the transgender athlete debate and said it was a ‘crime’ to remove transgender women from women’s sports amid a Republican-led movement to change Title IX protections.
Brittney Griner and her wife, Cherelle, after her first home game back ❤️ pic.twitter.com/29XQfzR7Tj
— espnW (@espnW) May 21, 2023
And former ESPN reporter Charly Anolt is calling out the athlete for her stance on the matter.
In a conversation with Dailymail.com, Anolt stated “You have to look at the administration that got her out of prison in Russia, our current administration. ‘So, she’s probably going to do whatever it is that they want her to do.Brittney Griner should be very thankful that she wouldn’t have had that obstacle leading up to this point because she might not be playing in the WNBA if she would have.”
Arnolt also bashed transgender athletes saying that transgender athletes are built differently than women and should not have the ability to compete in sports.
Arnolt went on to add ‘You were a mediocre athlete in terms of male competition, and then you decided that you wanted to jump up the ladder and enter into the women’s competition. I find it offensive as a woman when a man decides that just because they have decided to live their life and identify differently, that now they can enter into a space that belongs to women that they have fought so hard for and just completely obliterate the success and opportunities that they should have.”
Other athletes like Megan Rapinoe have been vocally against a Title IX alteration and for the inclusion of transgender women in a space previously reserved for biological women. Many claim this is a similar situation to back in 2016 when lawmakers attempted to put limitations on bathrooms for transgender individuals.
Arnolt admitted she does not know what Rapinoe’s motive may be in this case, but claims it is a similar situation to Griner’s and acting as a pawn to a higher power.
According Dr. Joshua D. Safer in a conversation with the ACLU “A person’s genetic make-up and internal and external reproductive anatomy are not useful indicators of athletic performance. For a trans woman athlete who meets NCAA standards, there is no inherent reason why her physiological characteristics related to athletic performance should be treated differently from the physiological characteristics of a non-transgender woman.”