- Kate Fagan, Columnist, espnW.com
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The Harlem Globetrotters drafted WNBA rookie Brittney Griner as one of five selections in their annual player draft Tuesday. Her reaction? Thanks, but no thanks.
Griner, who is in the middle of her rookie season with the Phoenix Mercury and is already committed to playing in China this winter, gave the Globetrotters advance notice that, if picked, she would decline to play for them.
"While it's an honor to be considered, I am under contract with the Phoenix Mercury and the Zhejiang Golden Bulls," Griner told espnW on Tuesday. "And I am 100 percent committed to doing all I can to bring championships to our fans."
The iconic Globetrotters chose Griner first, followed by three male college players: Doug Anderson of the University of Detroit Mercy, Tyrone Davis of Northwood University and high-flier Corey Law of High Point University. (Law has a 44-inch vertical leap.) They often take a superstar from another sport, and their choice this year was New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.
In April, the Mercury made Griner, a 6-foot-8 center, the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft. A two-time national player of the year at Baylor, Griner dunked twice in her professional debut to become the first WNBA player to throw down two times in one game.
"Brittney Griner is a great ambassador for the game of basketball and a terrific player," Harlem Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider said. "Our North American tour runs from the end of December to the end of April, which would not conflict with the WNBA season. The Globetrotters already have two outstanding female stars, so the transition to our roster would be seamless." (Tammy Brawner and Fatima Maddox joined the roster in 2012 and 2011, respectively.)
Griner's contract with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls begins two weeks after the WNBA season ends and runs through early 2014, meaning the women's basketball star is committed nearly year-round.
The Globetrotters' drafting of Griner comes just a few months after Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, made a splash by saying he would consider selecting Griner in the 2013 NBA draft, which will be held Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Griner finished her college career as the NCAA's all-time leader in blocks, male or female, with 748, and she is the second-leading scorer in Division I women's history, with 3,283 points. During her junior and senior seasons, she led the Lady Bears to a 74-2 record, including a 40-0 mark and the NCAA championship in 2012.
16dBonnie D. Ford