Brittney Griner is home, rocking her 3s and enjoying basketball again as WNBA Opening Weekend vibes swell


Phoenix – It was a crowd celebration with basketball action when the pressure was on Phoenix Mercury They off their home schedule on Sunday at the Footprint Center. From the players’ tear-jerking introductions—especially from another US government official home to see the Mercury—to the honorees who drew more than the usual amount of applause, everything about their powerhouse position to restore paint was as if it was hers in the canyon.

“All we wanted last year was to bring our daughter PJ home,” Sophie Cunningham He announced to the crowd at an informal start to a much anticipated afternoon that included an opening poem with a dance performance. “And we did.”

Brittney Griner He’s back home and back in control as the life of a WNBA superstar began Slowly slip back to “normal” with the season’s opening vibes And the home debut is now in the rear view and 38 other games ahead. Mercury will be looking to keep their eyes on climbing the slopes after a winless weekend culminating in a B.C 75-69 loss to Chicago Sky.

A tough start is on top of Mercury employees’ minds, but it’s secondary to the day that many looked forward to even if they didn’t think it would happen soon. It’s about celebrating the people who helped bring Grenier home after she was unjustly held in a Russian prison for nearly a year, said Team Mercury principal Vanessa Nygaard.

When every reserve and starter player was introduced to the 14,040 fans, cheers rose until there was only one player left in the tunnel. Griner delved into the lyrics to “Tell the world I’m going home,” sung by Skylar Gray, in an emotional moment for a city he’s called his name since it hit No. 1 in 2013.

She answered a question about the emotions of it all by joking that she had dust in her eye. None of the players have watched the introductory clips for Season 1.

“Vince, you set that song up for me. Oh, my God.” Griner said emphatically, looking at Mercury President Vince Kozar and his wife Cheryl Griner on the interview room side. “I choked a little bit and tried to hide it, but you caught it.”

Phoenix Mercury Brittney Griner is presented before Mercury's house opens at the Footprint Center in Phoenix on May 21, 2023. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phoenix Mercury Brittney Griner is presented before Mercury’s house opens at the Footprint Center in Phoenix on May 21, 2023 (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Griner then proceeded to settle back into X-Factor home basketball’s embrace and led the Mercury with 27 points and a 10 rebound double-double along with 4 blocks in 31 minutes of action. In the season opener, I played 25 minutes in a drastic substitution by Nygaard who converted in the second half on Sunday.

“Well, I don’t consider myself a dummy,” said Nygaard, “but she scored every time she touched the ball.” “So [I] I just wanted to get more touches of her. She was very productive and we needed her because she was doing so much for us. She fought through her fatigue tonight and I think every game we have, you’ll see more of her.”

Griner scored the first points of the game on a beautiful move and 1 Elizabeth Williams to a small roar and received the same tribute for substitutions, throws and free blocks until the end of the game. With minutes left in the first quarter, the 10-year-old blocked her 722nd shot to move past Sylvia Fowles for third on the WNBA’s all-time block list. Margo Dedic holds the record with a score of 877 and Lisa Leslie is second with a score of 822.

In the final minute of the third minute, she dribbles an open 3-pointer into a loud roar like player introductions. It was only the seventh of her career touchdowns (four of which came in the 2021 season, runner-up for MVP alone) and she made it within 5 games with Phoenix. Sug Suttonwho scored 13 points off the bench for Mercury, said she passed it to Griner knowing she was going to hit it.

On her way back to the floor, Griner shouted, “I’m back,” while raising her hands in the 3-point tokens without any lull from the applause from the home crowd. She said she didn’t start the game with an “I’m back” mentality, but she joked saying that.

“That moment was very special, honestly,” said Greiner. “It brought me back to last season in play. It felt really good, honestly. A really crazy moment.”

One of the most exciting aspects of the 6-foot-9 center was that her entire family was in the arena, including her parents, to watch her play. She said it might be the first time since high school that they were all there at once to see her.

“I didn’t know when that was going to happen, if it was going to happen,” Greiner said. “It could have been a lot different. Being here, spending time with them, playing in front of them, it just choked me.”

They’ve seen the whole show. In the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, Griner made a save Qalaia copper So badly the star of the sky lost her shoes. At the 2:01 mark with the Mercury trailing by 5 in large part on Griner’s defensive efforts, the DJ played LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out with the lyrics, “Don’t call it a comeback.” It exploded from the break with a 1 to pull 2, and the crowd is on its feet. Mercury couldn’t get a chance to tie it up and Heaven clinched its second win of the junior season.

The last quarter certainly seemed like a transition from just going home to playing basketball again at the BG level. Nygaard has said over and over that just as it was when they went to Road City for the first time last year, Griner will remain a story. Only this time, it’s a story of joy.

This was on display throughout the game on Sunday during media timeouts, play stops and the halftime performance of “One Love” by Wyclef Jean.

Outstanding media first named Cheryl, Britney’s wife of nearly four years, as the “Believe in Woman” honoree in the game for her strength over the past year. She thanked X-Factor for embracing her in a moment where she said it felt like zero. Indoor cameras showed her more applause, and the Jumbotron smiled at a visibly intrigued Griner.

Phoenix Mercury Center Brittney Griner greets his wife Cherelle after opening Mercury's house on May 21, 2023, at the Footprint Center in Phoenix.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Phoenix Mercury Center Brittney Griner greets his wife Cherelle after the opening of Mercury’s house on May 21, 2023 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

the Bring Our Families Home Campaign President Nada Sharqi received her moment in the second quarter. Griner committed to focusing on the campaign over the course of the season and hugged Sharghi in a big hug with a check for $5,000. Judging by her face, she was not aware of the amount.

Prior to the second quarter, the arena honored Roger D. Carstens, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs who led the US government’s effort in a prisoner exchange with Grenier. Carstens told reporters that he and Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson, who introduced a House resolution calling for the player’s release, were crying when Grenier was introduced to the arena and the nation on ESPN.

Greiner, who came into the press room and immediately walked over to the benches for a hug, sat next to him holding onto her feelings as he described crying like a baby the entire time he watched her play.

“When BG came out, it was a very emotional moment for both of us, but I can tell you from where I stood and from where the team sits in Washington, D.C., we knew this day would come,” Carstens said. . “We knew it was going to be tough, it was going to take time, but what we saw today is exactly how I envisioned it. BG going home, Cheryl cheering for her, BG’s family in the crowd and BG back on the court doing what she does best, which is playing basketball.”

The image passed from the mind into a memory that no one will soon forget. Chicago Sky coach James Wade said before the game that Griner’s return wasn’t “real” until he saw her on the basketball court again. Williams, who had long been tasked with trying to protect the former dominant MVP candidate, described as surreal thinking being able to do it again.

It doesn’t sound more true than a booming introduction to a moving song selection and a stunning final baseline to say Griner is home safe and soundly in control once again. At least this weekend, there is no greater win than that.


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