The nine-time WNBA All Star also said she wants to play for Team USA at next year's Paris Olympics
Brittney Griner sees Phoenix as her forever home.
The WNBA star, 32, told reporters on Monday that she and wife Cherelle Griner recently purchased a new home in the city and that she wants to remain in Phoenix to play basketball next season.
"Phoenix is home," Griner told reporters at the Mercury’s end-of-season media day, according to ESPN. "Me and my wife literally just got a place [here]. This is it."
The 2023 season was Griner’s first time back on a basketball court since her 10-month detainment in Russia that lasted most of 2022. The nine-time WNBA All Star was released from Russian prison last December in a prisoner swap for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, and then made her emotional return to basketball in May.
Upon her return, Griner said the adjustment back to her everyday life has been "a little overwhelming," per CNN, and that being back in her Mercury jersey and in the team’s arena was "a surreal feeling.”
Griner didn’t appear to miss a beat once the season began, though. The former WNBA Champion led the Mercury in points in rebounds all season, scoring 17.5 points a game and grabbing 6.3 rebounds a night.
Her performance was good enough to earn her a ninth selection to the WNBA All-Star Game in July, where she dominated with two dunks in front of a raucous Las Vegas crowd that gave her a standing ovation when her name was called during the lineup announcements.
“To have that ovation and all those little memories that I can cherish now, it means the world,” Griner said afterwards.
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Griner’s 2023 return did hit some hiccups along the way.
She missed several games with a knee injury and faced one tense disruption off-the-court in June when she and her Mercury teammates were harassed by a YouTube “provocateur” while at the Dallas airport, traveling to the team’s next game. The incident shed light on inequity between WNBA and NBA players and led Griner to criticize the league for not investing in player’s travel accommodations, calling it “rock bottom” for the league.
"We've all seen what can happen in this world,” she said, criticizing the league. “And when you play the, 'Let's-wait-and-see-game' you're really playing with fire. You're playing with people's lives."
But overall, Griner’s arrival in each WNBA city often came with an emotional ovation and a warm welcome from fans. In her hometown Houston, Texas, Griner was met with family, friends, former teammates, and coaches who all made sure to be there for her first game back home.
“The love meant a lot to me,” she said at the time.
Griner now hopes to return to Phoenix after becoming an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The WNBA regular season ended this past weekend, meaning Griner’s season is also done after Phoenix finished last place in the league standings.
"It's not good being at the end of the standings," Griner said. "But it's better than where I was a year ago."
Next, Griner said she hopes to join longtime teammate Diana Turasi in not just returning to Phoenix next season, but playing for Team USA at the Paris Olympics next summer.
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