Brittney Griner, a seven-time All-Star made her debut on Friday in the WNBA 2023 season.
Griner, who spent almost ten months in prison in Russia, scored 18 points, grabbed 6 boards, and blocked 4 shots during her debut regular-season match.
Griner stood for the national anthem before the Mercury’s defeat of the Los Angeles Sparks by 94-71.
“You have the right to protest, the right to able to speak out, question, challenge and do all these things,” Griner said, according to ESPN. “What I went through and everything, it just means a little bit more to me now. So I want to be able to stand. I was literally in a cage [in Russia] and could not stand the way I wanted to.
I support everyone who refuses or does not come out. That’s my right as an American in this great country. ”
Griner, a woman from New York City, was arrested in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on February 20, 2022. Authorities found cannabis oil vape canisters in her luggage.
After difficult negotiations lasting months, the Biden administration has agreed to swap Griner for Viktor Bout. Bout is a Russian arms dealer who was convicted of charges.
She said: “I have changed my perspective about everything.” I value the small things like, “Oh, I’m tired and I don’t want to go to practice today.” Tomorrow is not guaranteed. You never know what the future will bring. ”
Griner stated in July 2020 that she didn’t think it was appropriate for the national anthem to be played during the WNBA Season. She said that she would not be on court if the national anthem was played.
Griner’s agent wrote a piece for Time Friday explaining Griner’s plan to stand during the National Anthem during the 2023 WNBA season.
Lindsay Kagawa Colas wrote that “Last year, most WNBA teams did not leave their locker rooms during the National Anthem. It was a protest and a united front to show the disparity between the anthem’s meaning and what Black Americans experience in America. Brittney Grinder is among those who will stand up, physically and symbolically for their right, to express themselves loudly, boldly, and in accordance with America’s proudest traditions.
Kagawa Colas stated that Griner’s “statement of American freedoms” would be made when he stood during the anthem.
Kagawa added: “Having been put in a cage that was too small for her, stripped of American liberties, and deprived of even her most basic rights Brittney will be making a bold statement during this WNBA Season, by standing up to these uniquely American Freedoms – most importantly, the absolute, unalienable and constitutionally protected freedom to stand, kneel or sit praise or protest, or make your voice heard. ”
Phoenix’s first home game in 2023 will be played on Sunday against the Chicago Sky.