Olympic champion Brittney Griner was jailed in Russia for 10 months. Now she’s playing basketball again – and is loudly celebrated by fans of both teams at the season opener of the WNBA.
Olympic champion Brittney Griner made her comeback in the WNBA professional league with US Vice President Kamala Harris as a guest star.
The basketball player, who was imprisoned in Russia for ten months, was loudly celebrated several times by the fans of both teams at the season opener between her Phoenix Mercury and the Los Angeles Sparks in California. Even when they first scored for the guests, there were loud cheers in the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. Vice President Harris had come on the court before the game, and tennis legend Billie Jean King and former Lakers star Magic Johnson were in the audience at the Mercury’s 71:94 defeat.
Griner missed the entire past season
“The love from the fans when I came out was extraordinary,” Griner said afterwards. Despite her 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks, she wasn’t satisfied. “It wasn’t good enough to win.” Griner said of Harris’ visit, “It was great. It was nice to be able to talk to her face to face and say thank you. The team also really enjoyed her coming.”
Because of the ten months in Russian custody, Griner missed the entire past season. She was arrested at Moscow airport in February and convicted of possession of vape cartridges containing marijuana oil. She was released in December following a prisoner swap between the US and Russia. Friday’s game was her first WNBA game in 579 days. At that time she had lost the fourth game in the final series with Phoenix against Chicago Sky.
Griner reported that many little things mean more to her since then, “because tomorrow is simply not guaranteed”. However, she also has to make sure “that I don’t get too distracted by everything. I’m here to work. I can feel it, but I also have to put it aside.”
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