Brittney Griner made her 2023 WNBA regular season debut on Friday and the seven-time All-Star immediately made her presence felt.
Griner scored 18 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked four shots in his first regular season game since he was imprisoned in Russia for almost 10 months.
Griner stood up for him. National anthem before the opening jump against the Los Angeles Sparks, a 94-71 loss for the Mercury.
BRITTNEY GRINER PLAYS IN FIRST GAME SINCE STOP, SAYS LISTENING TO NATIONAL ANTHEM ‘DEFINITELY HIT DIFFERENT’
“You have the right to protest, the right to be able to speak, question, challenge and do all of these things,” Griner said, according to ESPN. “What I went through and everything, now it means a little bit more to me. So I want to be able to stand up. I was literally in a cage.” [in Russia] and he couldn’t stand the way he wanted to.
“Just being able to hear my national anthem, see my flag, I definitely want to stand up. Now everyone who won’t stand up or come out, I fully support you 100 percent. That’s our right, as an American in this great country. “
Griner was arrested in February 2022 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after authorities discovered vape canisters filled with cannabis oil in her luggage.
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His detention in Russia ended in December after months of tense negotiations, with the Biden administration agreeing to exchange Griner for convicts. Russian arms dealer Victor Bout.
“I appreciate everything a little more, all the little moments, like, ‘Oh, I’m so tired I don’t want to go practice today,’ that has changed, honestly,” she said. “Tomorrow is not guaranteed, you don’t know what it will be like. In a way, I also feel so much older.”
Griner stated in July 2020 that he did not believe the national anthem must be played during the WNBA season, adding that she would not be on the court for the anthem if it continued to be played before games.
On Friday, Griner’s agent wrote a opinion piece at the time explaining why Griner intends to perform the national anthem during the 2023 WNBA season.
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“Last year, most WNBA teams chose to remain in their locker rooms during the national anthem, in a gesture of unified protest against the inconsistency between the values the anthem stands for and the realities of black people in America.” wrote Lindsay Kagawa Colas. “This year, as many things remain unchanged, some teams or players may follow suit. Others may sit or kneel. Others, including Brittney Griner, plan to get up — physically for the anthem itself and symbolically for the rights of their peers to be heard and express their dissent loudly and boldly, and in accordance with the proudest traditions of this country, as they see fit.”
Kagawa Colas explained that Griner will make a statement on “American liberties” defending the anthem.
“Having been put in a literal cageFar too small for her frame, stripped of her essential American liberties and deprived of even her most basic rights during a mock trial and unfair sentence, Brittney, supported by many other players, will make a statement this WNBA season defending those liberties. exclusively American, the most important of which is the absolute, inviolable and constitutionally protected freedom to stand, sit, kneel, praise, protest and make your voice heard,” Kagawa Colas continued.
Phoenix will make its 2023 season home debut on Sunday against the Chicago Sky.
Associated Press contributed to this report.