Kelsey Griffin is eyeing a return to the WNBA but not before she rubbishes critics of the Canberra Capitals' drought-breaking title - because "you can't buy the will to win".
Griffin capped off a sensational season by claiming the Capitals' most valuable player award and the Kellie Abrams defensive player of the year gong at the club's presentation on Tuesday night.
When Griffin claimed the league's highest individual accolade - which is set to be renamed the Suzy Batkovic Medal from next season - the 31-year-old decided the time was right to set the record straight.
Talk ramped up about the Capitals buying a championship throughout the finals. Broadcasters mentioned Canberra's budget throughout the playoffs while Adelaide Lightning coach Chris Lucas concedes "we're competing with big dollars" to secure their own star talent.
Capitals players and staff have grown frustrated of comments about budgets, adamant this is a championship built on character thanks to coach Paul Goriss' determination to instil a good team culture into Canberra. It's believed the Capitals have the fourth-biggest budget in the eight-team WNBL.
"I wanted to thank my teammates, the organisation, and bring to light that it was the recruiting Goz did with the deliberate vision of people he needed and quality personal traits like worth ethic, winning, fight, and all of those things he wanted to recruit and build a team around," Griffin said.
"He did that, and it was that that won us a championship, not any kind of budget or money. It was really important that it was the quality of people I got to play alongside, the coaching staff and the Caps organisation that won us a championship. It wasn’t a monetary thing because you can’t buy championships.
"I don’t think you can buy work ethic, extras, competitiveness, the will to win. You can’t buy that, people either have it or they don’t.
"That’s probably the thing that annoyed me the most about all the budget talk throughout the finals, it was selling short the calibre of people I play with.
"It’s one thing to be talented, but to make it into a professional league like the WNBL, everyone is talented. It’s not a question of talent, it’s more character traits and personal values that win championships."
Griffin is setting her sights on a return to the WNBA after a four-year hiatus, with her comeback ambitions last year coming to a halt when she was waived by the Connecticut Sun following injury problems.
The WNBL All-Star has opted against pursuing a deal in Europe after she decided the time is right to take a short break and recharge the batteries following discussions with her agent.
"I’m in talks with WNBA teams at the moment so I’m looking at potentially going over there and playing, which is pretty exciting," Griffin said.
"Even if it doesn’t work out, worst case I get to stay here in Canberra and train with Wally [Kristy Wallace] and potentially [Marianna] Tolo if she is still around. That’s a really good scenario for me.
"I don’t want to go over to the WNBA and have to prove something or just make up a spot on the roster. I want to go over there, similarly to like I have over here, and go into a really good situation where I enjoy playing and enjoy the people I get to go to work with every day.
"If that doesn’t make sense this season, that’s okay. If it does, that’s what I’m looking for. Coming off a season like this, you don’t really want to go just to play, you want to go to be part of something special."
Leilani Mitchell is WNBA-bound having signed a contract extension with the Phoenix Mercury last year, as is Canadian import Kia Nurse, while Tolo continues to explore her options.