Sun. May 19th, 2024

Brittney Griner officially re-signs with Phoenix Mercury: ‘So good to be back’

BY OLAFIMIHAN OSHIN

WNBA star Brittney Griner has officially re-signed with the Phoenix Mercury for the upcoming season, after spending 10 months detained in Russia last year.

The franchise made the announcement of Griner’s return, which was first leaked over the weekend, in a news release on Tuesday. A source close to Griner confirmed to The Hill on Monday that the 32-year-old center, considered a free agent, re-signed with the team on a one-year deal.

Griner, set to join the 2023 league team, which includes star players Diana Taurasi, Skylar Diggins-Smith, and Sophie Cunningham — last appeared in the WNBA in 2021 as she and the Mercury clinched a WNBA Finals berth, only to lose to the Chicago Sky in four games.

“It’s a great day for all of us to announce that Brittney Griner has officially signed to play for the Mercury in 2023,” Phoenix Mercury general manager Jim Pitman said 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.”

“We will continue to use the resources of our organization to support her, on and off the floor, and we are thrilled for her that she gets to return to basketball, which she loves so dearly,” he continued. “This is a special signing and today is a special day for all of us.”

In an Instagram post, Griner expressed her excitement to return with the Mercury.

“So Good to be back with the Family! @phoenixmercury,” she posted, along with purple and orange heart emojis.

It’s been two months since the Biden administration secured the release of Griner from Russia in a prisoner swap with notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Griner, a two-time Olympic Gold medalist for Team USA, was serving a nine-year sentence at a Russian penal colony after being found guilty of possessing hashish oil at a Moscow airport in February 2022 — just days after Russia began its war with neighboring Ukraine.

She expressed her gratitude in an Instagram post at the time, pledging to aid President Biden’s efforts to release other U.S. citizens who are in detainment in other countries.

“President Biden, you brought me home and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too,” Griner wrote in her post. “I will use my platform to do whatever I can to help you.”

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