Brittney Griner Returns to WNBA


Brittney Griner | Image by Keeton Gale/Shutterstock

About a year after being detained in Moscow, Brittney Griner has signed on to resume her WNBA career.

On Tuesday, the forward signed a one-year deal to remain with the Phoenix Mercury, where she has spent her entire career. ESPN reports the deal is worth $165,100.

“It’s a great day for all of us to announce that Brittney Griner has officially signed to play for the Mercury in 2023,” the Mercury’s general manager, Jim Pitman, said in an official release on the team’s website.

Griner was detained in Russia for 10 months after allegedly carrying cannabis products through Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. The U.S. government agreed to a prisoner swap to ensure her release on December 8, 2022.

“We missed BG every day that she was gone,” Pitman went on to say in the release, “and, 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.”

“We will continue to use the resources of our organization to support her, on and off the floor, and we are thrilled for her that she gets to return to basketball, which she loves so dearly. This is a special signing and today is a special day for all of us,” he concluded.

“I do not think any of us will forget where we were on Dec. 8 when we heard BG was coming home or on Dec. 15 when she announced she intended not only to play basketball in 2023 but that it would be for the Mercury,” added Vince Kozar, the team’s president of business operations.

“And I know none of us will ever forget what it will feel like to welcome her back onto her home floor on May 21. To know BG is to love and appreciate BG, and we can’t wait to show her that in person with thousands and thousands of her biggest supporters exactly three months from today at our Welcome Home Opener,” he concluded.

Phoenix drafted Griner first overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft out of Baylor. She has made seven All-Star teams in her nine years in the league and averaged at least 20.5 points per game four times.

She has not played in the WNBA since 2021. That year she averaged 20.5 points per game and a career-best 9.5 rebounds. That season, Phoenix made it to the WNBA Finals and lost to the Chicago Sky.

Without Griner in 2022, Phoenix finished with a 15-21 record. The team was swept by the eventual champion, the Las Vegas Aces, in the first round of the playoffs.

Griner returned to the court earlier this week for her first open workout since being released from Russia, according to ESPN.

The Phoenix Mercury will kick off the 2023 WNBA season against the Los Angeles Sparks on May 19.

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