Brittney Griner is free and back to doing what she loves.
The three-time WNBA champion has been re-signed to the Phoenix Mercury, per a press release from the team. In a statement, Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman wrote, "It's a great day for all of us to announce that Brittney Griner has officially signed to play for the Mercury in 2023. We missed BG every day that she was gone."
"While basketball was not our primary concern, her presence on the floor, in our locker room, around our organization, and within our community was greatly missed. We will continue to use the resources of our organization to support her, on and off the floor, and we are thrilled for her that she gets to return to basketball, which she loves so dearly. This is a special signing and today is a special day for all of us."
Griner was released from a Russian penal colony in December 2022 in a prisoner swap with arms dealer Viktor Bout. She was first arrested at a Russian airport in February that year on drug smuggling charges after authorities found vape cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage while in the country for the WNBA offseason. Following her arrest, she pleaded guilty but maintained she did not intend to break the law.
In her first public statement after her release, she announced her intention to return to the Mercury for her first season with the team since 2021/ "I also want to make one thing very clear: I intend to play basketball for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury this season." She added that "in doing so, I look forward to being able to say 'thank you' to those of you who advocated, wrote, and posted for me in person soon," the athlete wrote on Instagram."
Spotrac reports she will take a pay cut in her new contract, earning $165,100.
The press release from the Mercury notes that Griner has been named in the WNBA's Top 25 Players of All Time list, and "is also a member of the exclusive club of 11 women who have won an Olympic, World Cup, WNBA and NCAA title." She also led the league in 2021 with an efficiency rating of 26.0.
In an Instagram post accompanying the announcement, Griner wrote, "So Good to be back with the Family!"
Photo via Getty/ Christian Petersen
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