Griner was imprisoned for about ten months in Russia.
7-time WNBA All-Star After being arrested in February 2022 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport for allegedly carrying cannabis oil in a vape pen, Britney Griner made her return to court on Friday.
After nearly ten months in a Russian prison following her guilty plea on narcotics charges, Griner was returned to the United States in a prisoner swap in December.
Griner scored 10 points for the Phoenix Mercury in their preseason game against the Los Angeles Sparks on Friday night, her first competitive game since the 2021 WNBA Finals.
The regular season for the Mercury begins on Friday; therefore, this was their last preseason game.
Griner and her teammates stood for the national anthem before the game, and the home audience gave the first overall choice in the 2013 WNBA Draft a standing ovation when she was presented.
It was odd for Griner to hear the national anthem. “It’s like at the Olympics, when you’re waiting to have the medal hung around your neck and the national anthem is playing and the flags are being raised.
Having you here today means a great deal.
Griner stated in July 2020, when social justice protests were happening around the country, that she did not believe the anthem should be played during the season but that she did not intend any “disrespect to our country.”
Griner re-signed with the Phoenix Mercury in February, marking her tenth consecutive season with the same team in the WNBA.
After the game, the Mercury staff “looked at each other and just had chills,” coach Vanessa Nygaard remarked. Last year, we witnessed it all firsthand. I’m starting to choke up thinking about it. It’s a miracle in and of itself that she’s back on the field. That was incredible. I’m getting the shivers all over again.
Griner grabbed three boards in 17 minutes and said she was more rusty than she had anticipated, despite the fact that she was critical of her performance.
Not exactly where I’d like it to be, but heading in the right direction, Griner remarked. As they say, “We’re making the right moves.”
After months of tense negotiations, the Biden administration finally agreed in December to trade Griner for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, ending Griner’s detention in Russia.