WATCH: Brittney Griner Plays First Home Game After 585 Days

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It had been 583 days since Brittney Griner last stepped on a WNBA basketball court. But the Phoenix Mercury center made her long awaited debut on Friday in Los Angeles, and got to play in front of the home fans for a matinée on Sunday.

Brittney Griner Dominates In Her First Games Back

Griner’s story wasn’t one that was just about sports. While playing overseas in February 2022, Griner was arrested on drug smuggling charges in Russia. She was found at the airport to be carrying a hash oil vaporizer cartridge that contained less than a gram and was prescribed to her back in Arizona.

Drug laws are strict in Russia, but many believed that Griner’s detainment was a leverage ploy due to the western involvement in the conflict with Ukraine. She would ultimately spend roughly 9.5 months in confinement, and was released when the United States agreed to send back arms dealer Viktor Bout.

It was a highly publicized ordeal, which created controversy politically. But Brittney Griner was able to get back to her regular life, and made her long-awaited return to the Mercury as the 2023 WNBA got underway over the weekend.

In her first contest against the Los Angeles Sparks, Griner was an impressive 7 for 9 from the field and scored 18 points. She had an even more stellar performance on Sunday in her first game back in Phoenix. She shot the ball 13 times from the field and missed just four, and also went 8 for 9 from the free throw line. She finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds, and added 4 blocks for good measure.

Unfortunately for the Mercury, they lost both contests and have gotten off to an 0-2 start.

But the return of Brittney Griner was the news on Sunday. Her pre-game introduction was met with a raucous ovation as the arena speakers played “Coming Home”. She even met with Vice President Kamala Harris, who then spoke with both the Mercury and Sparks about the situation at hand. There was a clip of Sparks players giving their thanks to Harris for her hand in getting Griner home.

In somewhat related news, Griner was seen standing for the National Anthem in before both contests, something she previously protested.

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