Brittney Griner set to return to the court as new Phoenix Mercury season kicks off

This comes after Griner spent nearly 10 months in a Russian prison
Griner is set to play her first WNBA regular season game since being arrested in Russia.
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 9:31 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- It’s an exciting weekend for Phoenix Mercury fans! The team kicks off a new season in Los Angeles on Friday, which will be followed by the regular season home opener on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Footprint Center. For Brittney Griner, it will be the first regular season game at home in more than 600 days as Mercury faces off against the Chicago Sky.

At a media briefing this week, head coach Vanessa Nygaard said at this point the players are sick of training camp, they are sick of practicing and they are ready to play for real. Nygaard was also asked about Griner’s readiness level. She thinks we’ll know once the team begins regular season play. Griner is still physically and mentally recovering from detainment after she was held in a Russian prison for nearly 10 months, then freed in a prisoner swap.

READ MORE: Brittney Griner plays first WNBA preseason game since detainment in Russia

As a coach, Nygaard says there’s no roadmap for this. “It’s a miracle that she’s back,” Nygaard said. “But also her personal resilience and toughness to be out here doing this and playing basketball, which I believe is the hardest game to play in the world. Because we know as you go through things, it’s not easy every day after something like that that she went through.”

One change fans will notice this year is the Mercury is partnering with the campaign Bring Our Families Home to shed light on those who are wrongfully detained. At home games, the team will have letter writing stations so fans can send messages to those detained as well as lawmakers.

Tickets for Sunday’s game are still available. The Mercury says it has “experienced the team’s earliest lower-level sellout since the late 1990s.”