Brittney Griner will be making her long-awaited return to the WNBA that fans have been yearning to know about. This will be her 10th season with the league and the Phoenix Mercury as well. The former champion has not played competitive basketball in over a year as she was detained for 10 months in Russia. Griner visited Russia to compete alongside her UMMC Ekaterinburg teammates.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist was taken into federal custody and remained in detention for several weeks. In August 2022, the jury decided against her and sentenced the Mercury’s center to nine years in prison. Frustrations were at an all-time high as her safety was a major concern. Griner was taken to the Russian Penal Colonies to serve time and these places aren’t generally known for their environment.
In December of that year, Brittney Griner was released in a prisoner swap involving convicted arms dealer, Viktor Bout. Since then, Griner has only now come forth and stood in front of the media. During the Mercury’s media day, she spoke about her return, the falsely accused, and her story. She will soon make an appearance on the court as well. In her last season, she put up 20.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game.
Brittney Griner signed a one-year contract worth $165,100 with the Phoenix Mercury
Brittney Griner made her return official after signing a fresh deal with the Phoenix organization. She agreed to a one-year $165,100 contract earlier in February 2023. Griner is expected to debut on the court during the Mercury’s season opener against the Los Angeles Sparks on May 19, 2023. The Phoenix fan base will get to see her in action against the Chicago Sky two days later. This is what the Mercury’s roster will look like this season.
Griner took to Instagram to announce her return to the game. She posted a video and captioned it, “So Good to be back with the Family @phoenixmercury.”
The former all-star announced her return to the court soon after she was retrieved by the United States. Griner claimed during media day that she will never return to Russia or even compete professionally in the country. She claimed that the only exception would be if she represents the country in the Olympics.
Brittney Griner signed a 1-year contract with the Mercury, per multiple reports. pic.twitter.com/nx4QS2M6CH
— The Sporting News (@sportingnews) February 18, 2023
“We missed BG every day,” said Mercury’s general manager Jim Pitman. “While basketball was not our primary concern, her presence on the floor, in our locker room, around our organization, and within our community was greatly missed,” he said according to USA Today.
Griner will certainly come back with the intent of dominating as she usually does. She was spotted working out at Phoenix’s gym along with several other NBA counterparts of hers, like Kevin Durant and Deandre Ayton.