Brittney Griner performs in first recreation since detainment, says listening to nationwide anthem ‘positively hit totally different’

Seven-time WNBA All-Star Britney Griner returned to recreation motion on Friday for the primary time since being arrested in February 2022 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after authorities found vape canisters with hashish oil in her baggage. 

Griner spent practically 10 months in a Russian jail after she pleaded responsible to drug fees, and he or she returned to america in December after a prisoner alternate. 

Brittney Griner attempts a free throw

Brittney Griner, #42 of the Phoenix Mercury, prepares to shoot a free throw throughout the recreation towards the Los Angeles Sparks on Could 12, 2023, at Footprint Heart in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Barry Gossage/NBAE by way of Getty Photographs)

On Friday night time, Griner performed in her first aggressive recreation for the reason that 2021 WNBA Finals, scoring 10 factors for the Phoenix Mercury in a preseason recreation towards the Los Angeles Sparks. 


It was the Mercury’s remaining preseason recreation earlier than the common season opener on Friday. 

Previous to the tip, Griner and her teammates stood for the nationwide anthem, and the No. 1 decide of the 2013 WNBA Draft acquired a loud ovation from the house crowd as she was launched. 

“Listening to the nationwide anthem, it positively hit totally different,” Griner stated. “It’s like whenever you go for the Olympics, you’re sitting there, about to get gold put in your neck, the flags are going up, and the anthem is taking part in, it simply hits totally different.


“Being right here at the moment … it means rather a lot.”

The Phoenix Mercury stand for the national anthem

The Phoenix Mercury stand for the nationwide anthem earlier than the sport towards the Los Angeles Sparks on Could 12, 2023, at Footprint Heart in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Barry Gossage/NBAE by way of Getty Photographs)

In July 2020, as social justice protests had been occurring across the nation, Griner stated she did not really feel that the anthem ought to be performed throughout the season, including that she did not imply any “disrespect to our nation.”

Griner re-signed with Phoenix in February, returning for her tenth WNBA season, all with the Mercury. 

“We checked out one another, and we simply had chills,” Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard stated. “We had been right here final yr for all of it. I’m getting emotional about it now. Simply to see her again on the market — it’s an absolute miracle. It was superb. It’s giving me chills once more.” 

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Griner added three rebounds in 17 minutes, however she was vital of her efficiency, saying she was extra rusty than she anticipated. 

Brittney Griner is introduced

Phoenix Mercury middle Brittney Griner is launched previous to a WNBA preseason basketball recreation towards the Los Angeles Sparks, Friday, Could 12, 2023, in Phoenix.  (Alokito Mymensingh 24 Photograph/Matt York)

“Not the place I would like it to be, however heading in the right direction,” Griner stated. “We’re making the appropriate strikes.”

Griner’s Russian detainment led to December after months of strained negotiations, with the Biden administration agreeing to alternate Griner for convicted Russian arms vendor Viktor Bout.

Peter Johnson