Brittney Griner is fulfilling her promise to play for Phoenix Mercury again after being detained for ten months in Russia, as she signed a one-year contract worth $165,100 with the Mercury on Saturday. She will return to the team that drafted her first overall in 2013 for the 10th season.
While Griner led Mercury to the WNBA finals in 2021, only to lose the game to Chicago Sky, she missed the 2022 WNBA season as she was detained in Russia. Notably, Griner had the best time of his career in 2021, averaging 20.5 points, 1.9 blocks, 2.7 assists and career-highs with 9.5 rebounds per game, 2.4 offensive rebounds and a .846 free throw percentage.
32-year-old, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and eight-time Women's National Basketball Association All-Star, was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February 2022 after Russian authorities said she was carrying a vape canister with cannabis oil. The US State Department had declared Griner to be wrongfully detained.
She was subsequently convicted of drug smuggling and later transferred to one of Russia's most notorious penal colonies, where former inmates have testified for torture, harsh beatings and slave labour conditions. Griner was released last December in a prisoner swap with Russia in exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout, a deal that was arranged after months of talks during a time of high tension between the two countries after Russia's February invasion of Ukraine.
"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," Griner wrote.