December 16, 2022 

Griner shows gratitude, says she will return to play in 2023 in first statement since release

'I intend to play basketball for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury this season'

Brittney Griner has spoken publicly for the first time since being freed from Russian detention last week. 

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In a statement posted to Instagram, the WNBA star expressed happiness to be home and thanked many people for her release. 

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“It feels so good to be home! The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn,” she wrote. “I dug deep to keep my faith and it was the love from so many of you that helped me keep going. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help.

“I am grateful to each person who advocated for me, especially my wife, Cherelle Griner, my family, Lindsay Kagawa Colas and Casey Wasserman and my whole team at Wasserman, Vince Kozar and the Phoenix Mercury, the players of the WNBA and my entire WNBA family, Terri Jackson and the WNBPA staff, my Russian legal team Maria Blagovolina and Alex Boykov, the leaders, activists, and grassroots organizations, Gov. Richardson and Mickey Bergman of the Richardson Center, the Bring Our families Home Campaign, Roger Carstens and the SPEHA team, and of course, a special thank you to President [Joe] Biden, Vice President [Kamala] Harris, Secretary [Antony] Blinken and the entire Biden-Harris Administration.” 

Griner went on to say she is “committed” to working with President Biden on bringing Russian detainee and ex-Marine Paul Whelan as well as others back to the United States.  

Griner also discussed her basketball future. She was credited with a year of service in 2022, WNBA director of communications Ron Howard told The Next. This means that she is a free agent but is eligible for a $234,936 supermax contract if she re-signs with the Phoenix Mercury.

Griner said, “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.”

WNBA free agency negotiations are allowed to begin on Jan. 15.

Written by Jesse Morrison

Jesse Morrison covers the Phoenix Mercury for The Next. A native of Roanoke, Va., Jesse moved to Arizona in 2017 to attend the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, graduating in 2021 with a degree in sports journalism. Outside of The Next, Jesse works for Arizona Sports, co-hosting an Arizona State podcast, producing a radio show and writing for their website.

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