Brittney Griner Returns To WNBA Team Phoenix Mercury

Is she returning to the court?

BYMolly Byrne
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Brittney Griner, 32, who was detained at airport security near Moscow, Russia, is making her return to the WNBA. With a $165.100 free-agent contract with the team she played for prior to her arrest, Phoenix Mercury, Griner is eager to get back on the court, taking to Instagram to talk about her intentions, “I also want to make one thing very clear: I intend to play basketball for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury this season, and in doing so, I look forward to being able to say ‘thank you’ to those of you who advocated, wrote, and posted for me in person soon.”

8X All-Star and 2X Olympic Gold Medalist Has Nine Seasons on Her Back

TOPSHOT - France's Sandrine Gruda (R) dribbles the ball past USA's Brittney Griner in the women's preliminary round group B basketball match between France and USA during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (Photo by Aris MESSINIS / AFP) (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Griner is a name to know. Being an 8X WNBA All-Star and 2X Olympic Gold Medalist, Griner has made her skill known in the basketball world. Averaging 20.5 points per game with 9.5 assists in her 2021 season with Phoenix, center player Griner was a first round, first pick for her team. With nine seasons on her back, Griner averages 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists overall. 

Leading her Baylor College basketball team to a 2012 championship, Griner became the NCAA's only player to score 2,000 points with 500 defensive blocks. With many accolades like Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, ESPYs Best Female Athlete Award, and becoming a 3X All American Basketball Player, it’s no wonder Griner was able to again lead her Olympic team to victory in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Then again in the 2020 Tokyo, Japan Olympics

Griner’s new contract with the WNBA will have her starting with Phoenix Mercury in the 2023 season for their first game against Los Angeles Sparks on May 19th. WNBA Commissioner Cathey Engelbert told Poppy Harlow on CNN This Morning Show, “I met with her in Phoenix. Britney is doing remarkably well, and she's starting to train. We're so excited to have her back in the league after an awful ordeal."

Griner Becomes First LGBTQ Member to Sign Nike Endorsement Deal

TOKYO, JAPAN August 2: Brittney Griner #15 of the United States during team warm up before the France V USA Preliminary Round Group B Basketball Women match at the Saitama Super Arena during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games on August 2, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Being the first LGBTQ member to sign an endorsement deal with Nike, Griner has paved the way for many men and women who support the cause as well. In a 2019 interview with People Magazine, Griner explained her feelings on coming out as a lesbian in the WNBA saying, “People tell me I'm going to break the barrier and trailblaze. I just kind of look at it like, I'm just trying to help out, I'm just trying to make it not as tough for the next generation."

Griner Takes to Instagram to Speak on Her Return to US and WNBA

Griner Has Been Met With Support By Her WNBA Family

(L-R) Brittney Griner #42, Skylar Diggins-Smith #4, Diana Taurasi #3, Shey Peddy #5, Brianna Turner #21 and head coach Sandy Brondello of the Phoenix Mercury during a timeout in Game Three of the 2021 WNBA semifinals. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Griner has received nothing but positivity from her WNBA family. Jim Pitman, General Manager of Phoenix Mercury announced on Griner’s signing day for the 2023 season saying, “It’s a great day for all of us to announce that Brittney Griner has officially signed to play for the Mercury in 2023. We missed BG every day that she was gone 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.”

Griner also received backing from Phoenix Mercury President of Business Operations saying, “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. 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.”

The Return of Griner in the 2023 WNBA Season

Brittney Griner #15 of Team United States shoots against Japan during the second half of a Women's Preliminary Round Group B game on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Also, a member of the 11 women who have won an Olympic, World Cup, and both WNBA and NCAA title, Griner continues to push forward in the WNBA as she overcomes her previous detainment. If not for trading Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in December 2022, Griner would still be detained in Russia for her original nine-year sentence. However, Griner remains on US soil with her wife, Cherelle Griner, 30, and WNBA family, preparing herself for the 2023 season with Phoenix Mercury.

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