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Brittney Griner Plays First WNBA Game Since Russian Imprisonment

Though the Phoenix Mercury lost, Griner scored 18 points and logged six rebounds and two assists during the game

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty

Welcome back, BG!

WNBA star Brittney Griner — who missed all of last season while she was imprisoned in Russia for 10 months — played her first official game with the Phoenix Mercury since returning to the U.S. late last year on Friday evening.

Though the Los Angeles Sparks defeated the team 94-71 in their first game of the regular season, Griner, 32, scored 18 points and logged six rebounds and two assists.

Various basketball stars and celebrities came to the Crypto.com Arena to celebrate Griner's return to the court, including Magic Johnson, Billie Jean King, Dawn Staley, Pau Gasol and Lakers coach Darvin Ham.

Vice President Kamala Harris also visited both teams' locker rooms before the game with her husband, Douglas Emhoff. WNBA president Nneke Ogwumike thanked Harris, 58, for her and the Biden administration's work to bring Griner home during the meeting.

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Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty
Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty

Related:Brittney Griner Will Release a 'Raw, Emotional' Memoir in 2024 Detailing Her 10 Months in Russia

Last week, Griner chatted with reporters at the Mercury's media day about her return to the team and the impact her imprisonment has had on her life.

The basketball star said she "didn't think it could get that big," regarding the worldwide coverage of her arrest and the ten months that would follow.

As the Phoenix Mercury prepared for the start of a new WNBA season, Griner detailed that it was "a surreal feeling being back in" her jersey and in the team's arena.

Griner said, "I didn't think that it would come this quickly, I was prepared for the long haul, but it's so nice being here, being up here doing media again, wearing this jersey."

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty

Related:Brittney Griner Meets Joe Biden for the First Time After Prisoner Swap: 'Emotional for Both of Us'

She added that the adjustment back to her everyday life has been "a little overwhelming," per CNN.

"It's cool because now I'm able to reach even more people," Griner said of her ability to "bring" new eyes to the WNBA, as well as "keep them aware" of the other detained Americans whose release she's advocating for with her wife Cherelle.

Griner is grateful for the "bigger outlet" that her situation has given her as she continues to "support others who are in need and don't have the spotlight or the media coverage that they should be able to get," according to CNN.

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