Brittney Griner is back in the States, after being freed from a Russian prison last year, and she has announced that she is ready for the upcoming WNBA season. Following a long and drawn-out negation for her release, culminating in a prisoner swap between Putin and Biden administration, Griner has signed a new deal to play for the Phoenix Mercury.
According to ESPN, the one-year deal is worth $165,100. This will be Griner’s 10th season in the WNBA after being drafted first overall in the 2013 WNBA draft. Following her release from Russia, Griner hinted at the possibility of this return to the game, according to Fox News, posting on Instagram:
“I also want to make one thing very clear: 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.”
For those who missed it, Griner was detained on February 17th of last year, here is what the Russian Federal Customs Service had to say following the arrest, as shared by CNN:
“As a US citizen was passing through the green channel at Sheremetyevo Airport upon arriving from New York, a working dog from the Sheremetyevo customs canine department detected the possible presence of narcotic substances in the accompanying luggage,” a statement from the customs service said.
“The customs inspection of the hand luggage being carried by the US citizen confirmed the presence of vapes with specifically smelling liquid, and an expert determined that the liquid was cannabis oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance.”
Griner’s return to the USA was a hotly contested topic, given that many believe she was prioritized over other Americans who are already imprisoned in Russia. MLB legend Curt Schilling was one such figure, who couldn’t stand the way her crimes were being handled by the current administration:
“I know this may seem like a stretch. But something like 300 million people understand “OBEY THE [F***ING] LAW”, why is that such a challenge? And why on earth should she NOT pay the penalty for breaking another country’s laws?”
I know this may seem like a stretch. But something like 300 million people understand "OBEY THE FUCKING LAW", why is that such a challenge? And why on earth should she NOT pay the penalty for breaking another country's laws? https://t.co/3SPJ5KJyA6
— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) July 18, 2022
Former President Donald Trump described the prisoner swap, involving an international arms dealer and Brittney Griner, as the following:
“What kind of a deal is it to swap Brittney Griner, a basketball player who openly hates our Country, for the man known as “The Merchant of Death,” who is one of the biggest arms dealers anywhere in the World, and responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and horrific injuries. Why wasn’t former Marine Paul Whelan included in this totally one-sided transaction? He would have been let out for the asking. What a “stupid” and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA!!!”
Now that Griner is back on a WNBA roster, this debacle can finally simmer to a halt. For those planning to watch her post-Russia WNBA renaissance debut, their season begins in Los Angles on March 19th.
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