Brittney Griner Back On The Court In First WNBA Pre-Season Game Since Russian Detention

Brittney Griner's unofficial return to the WNBA on Friday night started off with lots of hugs, high fives and a long standing ovation from the home crowd when she was introduced before tipoff in Phoenix Mercury's preseason finale.

This was the first time Griner has played in competition since her December release following a prisoner exchange after spending ten months in a Russian prison for possession of cannabis oil.

How did she do? How does 10 points in 17 minutes sound? The AP reported she was casually throwing down a one-handed dunk during warmups. 

Once the game started, the 6-foot-9 center scored on a turnaround jumper in the first quarter, got fouled on another turnaround and then sank both free throws like she’d never stopped playing for well over a year. Having missed all the of 2022 season, Friday’s game was her first competitive game action in 572 days - since Game 4 of the 2021 WNBA Finals. Phoenix lost Friday's game 90-71 to the Los Angeles Sparks. 

Other reporters at courtside said Griner showcased some of the moves that made her one of the most dominant centers of her generation.

Griner finished the game with 10 points on 2-of-5 shooting and a 6-for-8 clip from the free-throw line to go along with three rebounds and one block in 17 minutes.

Home Opener For The Phoenix: Wyclef Jean Will Be In The House

Phoenix Mercury will tip off their regular season on May 19 in L.A. against the Sparks at 8 p.m. before returning to Phoenix for the home opener against the Chicago Sky on May 21 at 1 p.m

According to TMZ, Grammy-winning musician and producer Wyclef Jean will reportedly be performing at halftime when the Phoenix Mercury play in Chicago Sky at the Footprint Center. 

In her first press conference in late April, Griner said that she would only travel abroad to play basketball to represent the United States in international competition.

Griner had been playing on a Russian basketball team for seven years when she was detained at a Moscow airport in Feb. 2022, one week before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Photo: Twitter Phoenix Mercury


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