Mercury’s Brittney Griner works out in front of media Thursday

Feb 24, 2023, 7:37 AM | Updated: 7:39 am

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner was playing basketball in front of reporters on Thursday for the first time since her release from what the United States labeled as a wrongful detainment in Russia.

After officially re-signing with Phoenix on Tuesday for what is reportedly a one-year deal, she was seen getting in some work on the hardwood at the organization’s facility, which is shared with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.

“It’s unreal … just watching and seeing her reaction on her face,” Suns center Deandre Ayton said Thursday as Griner worked out behind him. “Her just being back, just trying to get back in shape and just loving doing what she loves to do.

“You can tell her mind is free, and everybody is happy for her. So just let her suit back up and polish some things up and she’ll get back to the old BG dunking on all these folks.”


Griner’s workout was one of the rare public appearances since her return to the United States.

She had attended the WM Phoenix Open and Super Bowl earlier in February.

Griner was detained in Russia for 294 days (10 months) and missed the entire 2022 WNBA season after being arrested for having hash-like cannabis oil in her backpack at a Russian airport.

The 32-year-old made a promise as a free agent to play for the Mercury in 2023 after the U.S.-led prisoner swap brought her home.

“I told her I like her cut, too, it suits her well,” Ayton said. “I see a smile on her face, it’s something you can’t take for granted.

“It’s good seeing her out here dribbling a ball. It’s unbelievable right now. I’m just happy to see her get it in. She knows she has to get back in shape and go after it.”

Griner’s most recent season in Phoenix came in 2021, when she averaged 20.5 points per game on 57.5% shooting to go along with 9.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.9 blocks en route to an eighth career All-Star appearance.

The Mercury tip off their 2023 campaign on the road against the Los Angeles Sparks on May 19 and will host a highly anticipated home opener on May 21.

Phoenix Mercury

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark...

Associated Press

Iowa star Caitlin Clark declares for 2024 WNBA Draft

Iowa's Caitlin Clark announced Thursday that she will leave the Hawkeyes after this season and enter the WNBA Draft.

3 days ago

Sug Sutton...

Arizona Sports

Phoenix Mercury re-sign Sug Sutton to training camp contract

The Phoenix Mercury re-signed point guard Sug Sutton to a training camp contract on Tuesday coming off her breakout season in 2023.

5 days ago

Natasha Cloud #9 of the Washington Mystics plays against the New York Liberty during Game Two of Ro...

Arizona Sports

Mercury’s commitment was ‘everything’ for new G Natasha Cloud

New Phoenix Mercury guard Natasha Cloud said the franchise's commitment to improving was a driving force in her decision to sign.

9 days ago

Diana Taurasi celebrates...

Tyler Drake

Mercury focused on present and future in twilight of Diana Taurasi’s career

Phoenix Mercury GM Nick U'Ren finds himself in a balancing act as he works to build a sustainable roster around Diana Taurasi.

11 days ago

Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort chats pregame...

Arizona Sports

Full Arizona Sports’ 2024 Newsmakers Week schedule

Leaders from the Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona State Sun Devils and more join Bickley & Marotta.

13 days ago

Former Baylor Bears player Brittney Griner reacts during ceremony to retire her jersey before the g...

David Veenstra

Baylor women’s basketball retires Brittney Griner’s jersey

Baylor retired Brittney Griner's No. 42 on Sunday. In 2012, Griner won the NCAA Championship and led the Bears to a 40-0 record.

14 days ago

Mercury’s Brittney Griner works out in front of media Thursday