Brittney Griner is given a hero’s welcome by Phoenix fans as she returns for her first WNBA home game in 585 days – five months after being released from a Russian penal colony
- Griner’s return to Phoenix included halftime and postgame concerts
- She made her WNBA return against the Los Angeles Sparks several nights ago
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Mercury star Brittney Griner returned to make her home debut in Phoenix for the first time in 585 days after her high-profile detention in Russia that saw her miss all of last season.
Griner stood clapping for a moment before making an X in the air when her name was announced, to the sound of “I’m coming home” blaring over the loudspeaker in the background.
Fans in attendance gave him a standing ovation as the reflections of countless phone lights lit up the arena.
The Mercurys played the Chicago Sky in the season opener at home, on a day that also included pregame and postgame concerts by Wyclef Jean.
Griner made her return to the WNBA in the team’s previous game against the Los Angeles Sparks, in what she called “a day of joy.”
Brittney Griner made her Phoenix home debut after missing all of last season in Russia
His Phoenix Suns team played against the Chicago Sky on Sunday afternoon
The homecoming came shortly after his return to the WNBA against the Los Angels Sparks
“I was literally in a cage and couldn’t take what I wanted,” she said. “Just so I can hear my national anthem and see my flag, I really want to stand up.”
Griner had 18 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots Friday night for the Phoenix Mercury in a 94-71 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks.
“Not good enough, I didn’t get the voiceover,” said Griner, who nonetheless couldn’t be defeated.
“I appreciate everything a little more, all the little moments, like ‘Oh I’m so tired I don’t want to go to practice today’, it’s changed, honestly,” she said. .
‘Tomorrow is not guaranteed, you don’t know what it’s going to be like. I feel a lot older too.
The 32-year-old center’s immediate goal is to play a full game before the All-Star break in mid-July. She played 25 minutes on Friday.
“I hope to be exactly where I want to be,” Griner said. “I’m just going back to who I was before all of this happened.”
Griner had an immediate impact against the Sparks. She fired a pass to Moriah Jefferson, who hit a 3-pointer for Phoenix’s first field goal. Griner grabbed a few rebounds and scored twice as he helped the Mercury to an early lead.
Despite all the good energy that accompanied his return to his field, Griner and the Mercury were defeated by the Sky 75-69.
Griner led the team with 27 points on 9-13 shooting and recorded 10 rebounds to secure a double-double. His efforts, however, were not enough to prevent the team from losing their second straight game to start the season.