As Russians Return Basketball Star, US Coaches Have New Hope

WASHINGTON, D.C.  As news that Brittany Griner had been released by the Russian government reached the U.S., the mood was one of elation here and in Phoenix, where the lanky 6’9″ center is a star for the Phoenix Mercury.  “This sends a message,” said Amy Klobutnik, a writer for Women’s Basketball News.  “It will no longer be acceptable to ask ‘Who are the Phoenix Mercury?’”

Griner:  “Excuse me–I paid for extra leg room.”

But in other quarters the reaction was one of calculation and low cunning.  “Making trades with the Russians could be a new way to clear ‘cap space,’” said Arnie Kelly, who runs the website.  “Say you’ve got an under-performing point guard you got as a toss-in when you traded away your franchise player.  You could a top-notch arms dealer like the ‘Merchant of Death’ and maybe some cool team swag like a fleece pullover.”

Dellavedova:  “I’m not Russian, even though my names sounds like it.”

Exchanges of players, prisoners, and high-profile terrorists are governed by The Hague Convention, a series of treaties among nations and professional basketball leagues.  “Say you got a guy like Matthew Dellavedova,” says Tony Demarcodelli of the Sheboygan, Wisconsin Daily Sentinel.  “The fans want him gone, but who’s gonna take him except maybe the Freedonian Fighting Weasels.”

Con Chapman, a Boston-area writer who was kicked off basketball teams in 7th, 9th and 10th grades for insubordination, said the threat of banishment could have helped him curb his smart-alecky tendencies.  “If I’d known they might ship me off to Siberia, would I still have performed my drop-dead imitation of our assistant coach in the locker room?” he asks rhetorically, referring to an incident that got him bounced from a junior varsity team. “Probably, but at least I wouldn’t have performed it in the nude.”



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