Big news out of the WNBA today, as league president Laurel Richie suspended Brittney Griner and her wife, Glory Johnson, seven games each for a domestic violence incident in April.
This is a ruling that carries significant impact on the court for the league. Both are All Stars. The first overall pick in the 2013 draft, Griner is the emerging face of the league and the foundation of Phoenix's powerful front line. Johnson, drafted fourth overall by Tulsa in 2012, has been named to the last two All Star games.
The suspensions represent essentially a fifth of the WNBA's 34-game schedule, and are the longest in league history.
The defending-champion Mercury are already without star guard Diana Taurasi, who has elected to sit out the season. Now, barring a successful appeal, the Mercury will be without Griner for seven games to start the season, a stretch that includes a game with the Lynx in Phoenix June 14. Barring an appeal, Griner would be eligible to return for a game at Minnesota June 25.
The Shock opens the season at Minnesota June 5. Tulsa's seventh game is also against the Lynx, in Tulsa June 21.
According to the WNBA's investigation the April 22 incident occurred at their home outside Phoenix. Griner received a bite wound on her finger and scratches on her wrist. Johnson was scratched on her lip and was diagnosed with a concussion.
Griner pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct charges and agreed to complete domestic violence counseling, after which the charges will be dropped. Johnson's case is still pending.
The league said both players – who were married last week in Phoenix – must undergo individual counseling.