Glory Johnson had no idea her fight with then-fiancee Brittney Griner would become such a big deal. After all, they are lesbians, so it was not like it was a man beating up on a woman.
After the WNBA All-Stars stars battled so fiercely at their home that police were called, the now-married couple immediately began working through their problems together.
“We fought, we hashed it out, we talked it out, we were like, ‘Did we really just do that?'” Johnson told The Associated Press Tuesday. “Then we hugged, and we were like, ‘OK, the cops are coming.'”
The WNBA said Johnson pushed Griner in the shoulder, and Griner responded by pushing Johnson in the back of the neck. The April 22 confrontation included wrestling, punches and the throwing and swinging of objects. Griner had a bite wound on her finger and scratches on her wrist, while Johnson was scratched above her lip and diagnosed with a concussion.
Both were arrested, which surprised Johnson.
“The police said they have no idea who was the victim,” the Tulsa Shock forward said. “They had no idea. It surprised me, but I can’t control how people take it, I can’t control how people handle it, I can only control what I do from here on out.”
Johnson said multiple triggers led to the dispute with Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury.
“We know how we care about each other, and we fought out of that,” she said. “A lot of it was passion. We fought because we were mad that this person felt like this, or this person said this.”
The league suspended them for seven games each, just over a fifth of the season without pay. Johnson is appealing her suspension, and said her lawyer is ready if further action is needed.
“Do I think it was a little much? Yes,” Johnson said. “Especially because of the way we are and the way we handled it.”
The league’s decision is significant for both teams.
Griner is the reigning WNBA Defensive Player of the Year and helped the Mercury win the WNBA title last season. Johnson is a two-time All-Star for the Shock. Griner will be out until Phoenix’s game against Minnesota on June 27. If Johnson’s suspension stands, her first game back would be June 26 against New York.
Despite what Johnson called “one of the toughest months I’ve ever experienced,” she said she never reconsidered her plans to marry Griner. Their wedding went on as planned a few weeks after the fight.
“I never had any second thoughts,” she said. “Even though it was a situation that had never happened to me before, in any relationship that I’ve had, it was almost like, ‘OK, I partook in the situation, too, and I did fight as well.'”
Johnson said she has seen where some question why she remains in the relationship.
“If it’s something that I can work through, or it’s even something that I was a part of, you’ve got to take responsibility and either decide you want to move forward with the person that you care so much about or not, and I care a lot about this person, and it was my decision to move forward, and she did the same.”
Johnson said she understands the significance of domestic violence.
“I don’t want anyone to have to deal with that situation, any of my sisters, or even any of my teammates to deal with a situation like that,” she said. “I’d probably tell them to leave, but if they were like, ‘Man, but we’ve been through so much, and we care about each other more than just this one incident,’ then there’s more pros than cons.”
The Mercury play the Shock on July 2 in Phoenix. Griner and Johnson have faced each other before — both are post players in the league’s Western Conference. Johnson said the matchups this season will be intense, as usual.
“We’re very competitive,” she said. “It might even look like we’re going at each other. But afterward, we’re like, ‘Where do you want to go eat?'”
Johnson said the couple’s relationship is on solid ground, and added that people who judge it based on the fight “have to be realistic.”
“We still feel the same,” she said. “If anything, it brought us a little bit closer.”