Brittney Griner, the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft, has re-signed with the Phoenix Mercury on a one-year deal, as confirmed by multiple reports. The 32-year-old center has spent her entire professional career with the Mercury and has been an integral part of the team’s success, helping them to three WNBA Finals and winning the championship in 2014.
Griner’s return to the Mercury follows a tumultuous year for the star player. In February 2021, she was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow after Russian authorities found vape cartridges in her carry-on luggage. In September, Griner was convicted on drug possession charges, but was later released from a Russian penal colony in December as part of a prisoner exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout.
As Griner prepares to return to the court for the 2023 WNBA season, concerns have been raised about her safety while traveling. The league does not allow teams to charter flights, which means that players must fly commercially and sit in “premium economy” seating if available, as per the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Given the circumstances surrounding Griner’s arrest in Russia, there are concerns about her safety when traveling internationally.
Despite the challenges she has faced, Griner remains one of the most dominant players in the WNBA. She is a seven-time WNBA All-Star and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and has been named to the All-WNBA First Team three times. Throughout her professional career, Griner has averaged 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and almost two blocks per game, making her one of the most impactful players in the league.