Former WNBA #1 draft pick and Russian prisoner Brittney Griner suited up for the Phoenix Mercury for the first time since being repatriated to American soil following her arrest and imprisonment for breaking the law overseas.
Long the subject of how she’d handle her eventual return to the court and address past national anthem controversies, Griner surprised many with her on-court handling of the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Back in the summer of 2020, Griner shared a view common among Black Lives Matter that the anthem was rooted in racism. “I honestly feel we should not play the national anthem during our season,” Griner said during an interview in July of that summer. “I think we should take that much of a stand.”
“I’m going to protest regardless,” she added. “I’m not going to be out there for the national anthem. If the league continues to want to play it, that’s fine. It will be all season long, I’ll not be out there. I feel like more are going to probably do the same thing. I can only speak for myself.”
What a difference a few years and foreign prison stint can do for a person. Now, having felt the true sting of an actually harsh criminal justice system and perhaps realizing her wonderful blessings at home, replete with the right to partake in nominally illicit drugs without penalty and make far more money playing a sport nobody watches, Griner is turning heads with her maturation.
Indeed, she is sounding more and more like her former conservative detractors who felt little pity for what they saw as an entitled brat.
“Hearing the national anthem, it definitely hit different,” Griner said. “It’s like when you go for the Olympics, you’re sitting there, about to get gold put on your neck, the flags are going up, and the anthem is playing, it just hits different. “Being here today … it means a lot.”
“We looked at each other, and we just had chills,” Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said. “We were here last year for all of it. I’m getting emotional about it now. Just to see her back out there — it’s an absolute miracle. It was amazing. It’s giving me chills again.”
After the game, she also spoke about her performance on the court. “Not where I want it to be, but on the right track,” Griner said. “We’re making the right moves.”
To be sure, this is what many folks were hoping they’d see from Griner. She has been blessed with height and athleticism and is able to make a comfortable living in America because of it. Nobody cares about her identity as a black or lesbian woman, however much the left decides to make it an issue.
Still, though her left-wing activism and virtue signaling for the anthem might have changed, it doesn’t mean she’s entirely woken up to the many other narratives found within her political circles.
Brittney Griner claims it’s a “crime” to stop biological males from being able to compete against women in sports. pic.twitter.com/CTM9mV9nDz
— Jason Rantz on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) April 28, 2023
“Good morning, Brittney. I’m Mr. Bill Rodin from ESPN… It’s really great to see you,” the bizarrely timid reporter begins as if he is speaking in front of royalty. “It’s good to know the prayers been answered. Um, question, um, you’ve always represented so much throughout your entire career by access, and, you know, being able to do stuff, and I hate to put one more thing on your plate, but, there are a number of states who are aggressively moving to prevent transgender athletes playing.”
“And I was wondering, again, I hate to put one more thing on your plate, but, in terms of it being on your radar where is that you’re gonna have a tremendous platform. But where it is that gon a be on your radar in terms of advocating for you know, athletes, transgender athletes, being able to play,” he said as he finally finished his softball, soapbox question.
Griner didn’t waste any time to respond: “Oh, I mean that that ranks high on the on the list of things that I’ll be fighting for and speaking up against, you know, everyone has – everyone deserves the right to play, everyone deserves the right to come here, sit in these seats and feel safe and not feel, um, like there’s a threat or they can’t be who they are or, um, like. Like it’s just all eyes on them. So I think it’s a crime honestly, to separate, um, someone for any reason.
“So I definitely will be speaking up against those that legislation and those laws that are trying to be passed for sure,” she finished.
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