Mercury rookie Griner gets help from legends


By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


While other reporters asked basketball-related questions during her first Twin Cities visit since 2011, the MSR instead asked 6’-8” Phoenix Mercury rookie center Brittney Griner about her musical tastes.

Brittney Griner Photo by Sophia Hantzes
Brittney Griner
Photo by Sophia Hantzes

During an earlier media conference call, Griner disclosed that she usually listens to Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” during her pre-game routine. “That’s my favorite song, so that’s what I listen to a lot before games,” she disclosed. “Normally, I start off [with] some Jimi Hendrix, then maybe Trace Adkins, and then I’ll switch over to rap. It just depends on what I’m in the mood for.”

Hendrix’s hit obviously was around nearly three decades before her birth in 1990, so the MSR asked Griner who hipped her to the legendary guitarist. “I heard a song in a movie, the Woodstock documentary, and I started listening to his music,” she replied. “I liked it — it was different.”

We then asked about her meeting Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar last month.  He was the NBA overall top choice in 1969, expected to dominate the league — the 7’-2” center played 20 years, scored over 38,000 points, won six MVP awards, and played on six league championship teams. Similar expectations have surrounded the 6’-8” Griner, even before she was drafted No. 1 by Phoenix in April.

“He told me and our whole team that you have to work at it. You have to work at your game. You have to work with media, work with fans, and to just be open to it,” said Griner.

“How would you feel when you saw a legend?” asked teammate Alexis Hornbuckle out loud. “That was my first time meeting him. It’s a great feeling to have a legend in the gym cheering for our team to be successful.”

“That was an amazing experience to be able to work with him on the hook shot, and for him to give me some pointers and tips,” added Griner on Abdul-Jabbar’s brief tutorial. “I didn’t know I was holding the ball wrong. He showed me the right way to hold the ball for a hook shot. He [also] told me that he struggled in the beginning [as a rookie] as far as the hype, the fame and everything like that. It definitely is an adjustment. Everybody deals with it in their own way.”

Griner said that Hornbuckle and other veterans have “helped me out a lot in my transition to going pro.”

“She is just a kid,” said the sixth-year veteran guard, who recalled when she was a first-year pro. The tips she has shared with Griner include “learning little tricks of the trade that will make it easier for her. I try to take a rookie under my wing every year,” Hornbuckle said.

Griner admitted she has time to put in before comparisons with Abdul-Jabbar are warranted. “I always knew coming in that it was going to be different and not be like college. It’s not fun if you’re not struggling and learning.”


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