Brittney Griner Plays First WNBA Game Since Russian Imprisonment – Brittney Griner, the WNBA superstar, made her official comeback with the Phoenix Mercury in their first game of the regular season on Friday evening after being imprisoned in Russia for 10 months last year. Despite the Phoenix Mercury’s 94-71 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks, Griner, aged 32, showcased an impressive performance, scoring 18 points and recording six rebounds and two assists.
A number of notable basketball stars and celebrities, such as Magic Johnson, Billie Jean King, Dawn Staley, Pau Gasol, and Lakers coach Darvin Ham, gathered at the Crypto.com Arena to commemorate Griner’s return to the basketball court. Before the game, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, paid visits to the locker rooms of both teams.
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WNBA president Nneke Ogwumike expressed gratitude to Harris, aged 58, for her efforts, along with those of the Biden administration, in facilitating Griner’s return home. During the Mercury’s media day last week, Griner engaged in conversations with reporters, discussing her comeback to the team and reflecting on the personal repercussions of her imprisonment.
The basketball sensation expressed surprise at the magnitude of the global attention her arrest and subsequent ten-month ordeal received, remarking she “didn’t think it could get that big.” As the Phoenix Mercury geared up for the upcoming WNBA season, Griner shared her feelings of disbelief and awe, describing the experience of being back in her jersey and returning to the team’s arena as surreal.
Griner said, “I didn’t think that it would come this quickly, I was prepared for the long haul, but it’s so nice being here, being up here doing media again, wearing this jersey.” She added that the adjustment back to her everyday life has been “a little overwhelming,” according to CNN. “It’s cool because now I’m able to reach even more people,” Griner said of her ability to “bring” new eyes to the WNBA, as well as “keep them aware” of the other detained Americans whose release she’s advocating for with her wife Cherelle.
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