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WNBA players say life in Russia was lucrative but lonely

For top players in the WNBA, spending time playing in Russia could mean earning more than they would return home – sometimes even two or three times. with friends, struggling with unfamiliar language and culture, and living in a place with few hours of sunshine in winter and temperatures below freezing.Brittney Griner is one of the players who has come to Russia in recent years to make money. extra money. For the Olympic double, however, it turned into a long-term dream. Since arriving at Moscow airport in mid-February, she has been detained by police after they reportedly found vape bullets allegedly containing cannabis in her luggage. She is still in prison, awaiting trial next month, on charges of up to 10 years in prison. She was arrested during a political uprising in Ukraine. Since then, Russia has invaded Ukraine and continues to fight. Half a dozen U.S. athletes contacted by the Associated Press describe their experiences playing in Russia. Although no one found themselves in the same situation as Griner, they described problems such as isolation and fatigue, in addition to basketball. Europe and the United States, “said DeLisha Milton-Jones, one of the first American athletes to play in Russia in the early 2000s.” dina is heating up. sometimes since it dropped-40 degrees outside, “said Milton-Jones, who played for UMKC Ekaterinburg – team with Griner. Former American in Florida, WNBA All-Star and two-time WNBA champion and Los Angeles. Sparks says the decision to play in Russia is “just a business.” In the early 2000s, the WNBA’s top players could earn around $ 125,000 a year as part of their trade and competition. Today, elite players earn about $ 500,000. By playing in Russia, these ‘ The players could earn an additional $ 1 million to $ 1.5 million. The players said Russian clubs were trying to keep them as stable as possible, including sometimes providing drivers and translators. give players extra time off during the holidays, knowing they have a long way to go back to the US, when they return home.The homes provided by the clubs are in line with what the players are accustomed to in the WNBA, including cooking like Western Europe and restaurants. And no one has reached UMKC Ekaterinburg, which continues to be an exciting place for players.Milton-Jones helped the club win their first European Cup. The club’s owner, Shabtai Kalmanovich, changed the salary and living conditions of WNBA players in Russia before he was shot dead in Moscow in 2009. ” We rented. He did everything for five stars, “said Milton-Jones at a US basketball training camp earlier this month. Go shopping on a private jet. Or a club, you never know where the money is coming from and you don’t have to worry. You are there to work. “Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi have also been playing for many years. Russia for Kalmanovich and they talked about the comfortable living conditions and good travel to offer. “” We stay in the best hotel. We are going to Paris. We are in, like, a bomb hotel in Paris. “This treatment in Ekaterinburg continues.” My experience in Russia has been amazing, true, “he said. Breanna Stewart, who has played in Ekaterinburg since 2020 “They make sure they take care of players by renting everywhere.” But Milton-Jones also remembers how life was different 20 years ago, when mobile phones and the internet were relatively new. ” During the day, you have to go to a cigar shop and buy debit cards and you dial this number on the phone and it says you have 25 minutes to talk, ”she said. “We do not have the most popular apps nowadays on your phone. “Connecticut Sun goalkeeper Natisha Hiedeman, who spent this season in Russia before returning home in March, says her daily routine includes going to the gym and returning home. is a grocery store. ” It’s hard to get out if you can’t communicate. Everything is 10 times harder, “she said.” I stay at home. . ” Hiedeman says being in Russia feels more isolated than playing in Israel. “In Israel, everyone was between 20 minutes and there was a group of all Americans, so it was easy,” she said. “Russia is a big country, and to be close to any party you have to get on a plane and travel.” Hiedeman stays with her family through technology despite time differences. “I don’t know what old clubs do. Do it without FaceTime,” she said, laughing. Brinanna Turner, Griner’s partner with Phoenix Mercury, played in Russia in 2020-21. She competed against Nika Syktyvkar, a team based in the far north of Russia. Turner says Syktyvkar does not have a grocery store or many places to go, but it does have McDonald’s – though it does not offer much to get there. She used to sit there. home and broadcast movies and slides on her computer. When her team goes on the road, she will try to spend some time at the grocery store in those places. “There’s not a lot to do outside of football,” she said. “My town was very cold. When I first arrived there, the sun went down at 3,” said Turner, who hails from South Bend, Indiana. “The weather was perfectly balanced. It was colder. Get up, and it would be bad for 20 days in a row, it was getting colder every day.”

For elite players in the WNBA, spending time playing in Russia could mean earning more than they can afford to return home – sometimes even two or three times.

But the perpetrators also described loneliness of being away from family and friends, wrestling with unknown languages ​​and cultures, and living in a place with few hours of sunlight at the time. cold, and the temperature was not cold.

Brittney Griner is one of the players who has traveled to Russia in recent years to raise more money. For the Olympics twice, however, it turned into a long nightmare.

Since arriving at Moscow airport in mid-February. She was detained by police after they reportedly found some vape boxes allegedly containing cannabis oil in her luggage. She is still in custody, awaiting trial next month on a charge of up to 10 years in prison.

Her arrest comes at a time of heightened political tensions in Ukraine. Since then, Russia has invaded Ukraine and continues to fight.

Half a dozen U.S. athletes contacted by the Associated Press describe their experiences playing in Russia. Although no one found themselves in the same situation as Griner, they described problems such as loneliness and fatigue, apart from playing basketball.

DeLisha Milton-Jones, one of the first American actresses to play in Russia, said: “Playing there is not easy because the lifestyle and lifestyle is very different from how you face it. elsewhere in Europe and the United States. ” early 2000s.

Milton-Jones, who played at UMKC Ekaterinburg – the team that Griner said: “The worst weather – it’s 5pm, I have to put on my big shirt to keep warm sometimes since it doesn’t have 40 degrees. outside.” .

The former American in Florida, WNBA All-Star and two-time WNBA champion with Los Angeles Sparks said the decision to play in Russia was “just a business.”

In the early 2000s, top WNBA players could earn around $ 125,000 a year as part of a sales deal with the competition. Today, the salaries of elite players are about $ 500,000. By playing in Russia, these players could earn an additional $ 1 million to $ 1.5 million.

The players said Russian teams are trying to keep them as calm as possible, including providing drivers and translators in some cases. The clubs also give players extra time off, knowing they have been back in the United States for a long time, if they return home.

The homes provided by the teams are in line with what players are accustomed to in the WNBA, including Western-style cooking and laundry facilities, and have access to streaming and video calling services.

Milton-Jones, 47, has played for a number of European clubs but says Russia has paid the most during that time. And no one has reached UMKC Ekaterinburg, which continues to be a bright future for athletes.

Milton-Jones helped the club win its first EuroLeague title. The club’s owner, Shabtai Kalmanovich, changed the salary and living conditions of WNBA players in Russia before he was shot dead in Moscow in 2009.

“We rented. It did everything five stars, “Milton-Jones said at the American Basketball Training Camp earlier this month. “It simply came to our notice then. He would send us to France over the weekend and give us thousands of dollars to go shopping on a private jet. Even a club, you do not know where the money comes from and you do not care. You are there to work. “

Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi also spent many years playing in Russia for Kalmanovich and talked about the pleasant life conditions and good travel it would provide.

“Everything actually was first class,” Bird once said. “We stay in the best hotel. We go to Paris. We are in, like a bomb hotel in Paris.”

This treatment in Ekaterinburg continued.

“My experience in Russia is amazing, in fact,” said Breanna Stewart, who has played at Ekaterinburg since 2020. “They make sure they take care of the players by hiring everywhere.”

But Milton-Jones also remembers how life was different 20 years ago, when cell phones and the internet were relatively new.

She said: “During the day, you have to go to a cigarette shop and buy debit cards and dial this number on the phone and she says you have 25 minutes to talk.” “We did not speak,” she said. Find the most popular apps today on your phone. It was a struggle. “

Connecticut Sun host Natisha Hiedeman, who spent that time in Russia before returning home in March, says her daily routine includes going to the gym and returning home. The only place she went was the grocery store.

“It simply came to our notice then. Everything is 10 times harder, ”she said. “I stayed in the house. I’m lucky I have my dog ​​outside, (to) do things with him. “

Hiedeman says being in Russia feels more isolated than playing in Israel.

“In Israel, everyone is between 20 minutes and there is a group of Americans, so it’s easier,” she said. . ”

Hiedeman stays with her family through technology despite time differences.

“I don’t know how old clubs do without FaceTime,” she said, laughing.

Brianna Turner, Griner’s partner with Phoenix Mercury, also played in Russia in 2020-21. She competed against Nika Syktyvkar, a team far away in northern Russia.

Turner says Syktyvkar does not have a grocery store or many places to go, but she does have McDonald’s – though she does not usually go there.

She stays at home and spreads movies and slides on her computer. When her team goes on the road, she will try to spend some time in the mall at the venues.

“There’s not a lot to do outside of basketball,” she said.

“My town is very cold. When I first got there, the sun went down at 3, “said Turner, who hails from South Bend, Indiana.” The weather was a great balance. It’s colder. Get up, and it will be bad for 20 days in a row, it’s getting colder every day. “

WNBA players say life in Russia was lucrative but lonely Source link WNBA players say life in Russia was lucrative but lonely

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