Brittney Griner ‘plans to stand for the national anthem’ tonight in her first WNBA game back on US soil – despite previously claiming ‘it should not play’ at their games
- Griner stood for the national anthem earlier this month during a preseason game
- She will make her official WNBA return Friday night vs. the LA Sparks at 11pm ET
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Brittney will stand for the U.S. national anthem in her first WNBA appearance since President Joe Biden exchanged her freedom for ‘The Merchant of Death.’
According to Griner’s agent – who wrote an Op-Ed in TIME – the 6-foot-9 center has recently had a change of heart after her previous views and accompanying condemnation of what the anthem represented.
Griner has a newfound level of gratitude for her country. Back in 2020, she went as far as to suggest the WNBA ‘should not play the national anthem during our season’ and would not be on-court for The Star Spangled Banner. She seemed to infer some thankfulness and recognition for the anthem during postgame remarks following a preseason game vs. the LA Sparks on May 12.
‘Hearing the national anthem, it definitely hit different,’ Griner said, presumably alluding to her recently returned freedoms.
‘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.’
The Mercury star stood for the national anthem before a May 12 preseason game in Phoenix
Griner was convicted on drug charges in August and sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison. She was, however, released from a Russian penal colony on December 8 after President Biden sanctioned an exchange, giving convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout back to Russia.
The former Baylor standout was assigned to a Mordovian penal colony, a region known for its brutal prison system, until the Biden administration made the polarizing trade for her release. She was detained in Russia for 10 months, spending less than a month inside the penal colony.
Her agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas said Griner was only traveling to play in the transcontinental country due to ‘pay inequity rooted in racism, sexism and homophobia.’
Griner echoed a similar rationale albeit without suggesting her black skin or lesbian sexuality were reasons for a pay-gap between NBA and WNBA players.
‘It’s a shame that we have to leave our families for holidays, you’re missing everything being away. As much as I would love to pay my light bill for the love of the game, I can’t,’ Griner, who will earn $165,100 this season, said.
The NBA attained a revenue of $10billion through the 2021-22. Naturally, this dwarfs the projected revenue for the WNBA through 2023 — $180-200million. Seventeen of the 20 highest-paid players in the WNBA are of African-American descent.
‘Having been put in a literal cage too small for her frame, stripped of her essential American freedoms, and deprived of even her most basic rights during a sham trial and unjust sentencing, Brittney, supported by many other players, will make a statement this WNBA season by standing tall for those uniquely American freedoms,’ Kagawa Colas wrote.
Griner had 10 and three rebounds in her first taste of basketball action after being released
ESPN chose Griner’s return as its game-opening coverage of the upcoming WNBA season
‘In their acceptance and celebration of one another’s liberty to choose different ways to express themselves’, such as ‘patriotic protests’, ‘WNBA athletes are celebrating what it means to be a patriot.
‘They are transforming the sadistic stunt of BG’s detention, intended by Putin to serve as a racial and political wedge, into a reminder of the vibrancy, the diversity, and the strength of everything that America’s adversaries hoped to defeat.
‘Not least, every single one of them is standing in unmistakable solidarity with Brittney — even if they happen to be making their stand by taking a knee.’
Griner and her Phoenix Mercury teammates will kickstart their WNBA season Friday night at 11pm ET vs. the Sparks.