Brittney Griner Announces Her Return To The WNBA – Hollywood Life

Brittney Griner Officially Returns To WNBA, Signing With Phoenix Mercury After Returning From Russia

The Phoenix Mercury center announced that she'd officially signed with her old team after she returned home following her Russian prison sentence.

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Image Credit: Darryl Webb/AP/Shutterstock

Brittney Griner was revealed to be making her return to the WNBA in an announcement from the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday, February 21. The basketball star, 32, will continue to play with the team and will have her first game on May 21 for the first time in over a year. The team announced that she’d be rejoining them in a joyous announcement.

Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman celebrated that she’d make her return in a statement. “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,” he said. “This is a special signing and today is a special day for all of us.”

Mercury President of Business Operations Vince Kozar similarly spoke about how overjoyed everyone was to learn that Brittney was finally returning home from Russia in December, and the team is looking forward to having her back on the court. “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 said in a statement.

Brittney’s official announcement comes after reports that she had signed a one-year contract to return to the Mercury, just as she had played with them before she was arrested in Russia, per TMZShe last played with her old team back during the 2021 season, where the Mercury went to the finals but ultimately lost to the Chicago Sky. Her first game will be shortly after she made her first public appearance after returning back to the U.S. in an appearance at a Dr. Martin Luther King Day celebration in January.

After Brittney was released as part of a prisoner swap, she spoke about her plans to return to the league after her 10 months spent in prison in a lengthy statement on her Instagram, where she also thanked her fellow WNBA players, the staff, and many others. “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,” she wrote.

Brittney Griner announced that she would make her return to the WNBA with the Phoenix Mercury. (Darryl Webb/AP/Shutterstock)

Brittney was arrested in Russia, where she had traveled to play in the off-season after she was found with marijuana vape cartridges. After she was arrested, she was found guilty in her trial and sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony. After she was sentenced, her legal team continued to try to win appeals for her, but she was ultimately freed in December 2022 when President Joe Biden negotiated a prison swap for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to have her freed.

Besides speaking out about her intentions to return to the WNBA, Brittney also gave thanks to the many people who supported her during her trial and sentence, as well as opened up about how she was happy to be back stateside. “It feels so good to be home! The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn. I dug deep to keep my faith and it was the love from so many of you that helped keep me going. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help,” she said.