Brittney Griner discusses national anthem stance in return: ‘I definitely want to stand’. Griner scored 18 points in her return.
Brittney Griner made her 2023 WNBA regular-season debut on Friday and the seven-time All-Star immediately made her presence felt.
Griner scored 18 points, grabbed six rebounds, and blocked four shots in her first regular season game since being jailed in Russia for nearly 10 months.
Griner stood for the national anthem before the tip-off against the Los Angeles Sparks, a 94-71 loss for the Mercury.
“You have the right to protest, the right to able to speak out, question, challenge and do all these things,” Griner said, according to ESPN. “What I went through and everything, it just means a little bit more to me now. So I want to be able to stand. I was literally in a cage [in Russia] and could not stand the way I wanted to.
“Just being able to hear my national anthem, see my flag, I definitely want to stand. Now everybody that will not stand or not come out, I totally support them 100 percent. That’s our right, as an American in this great country.”
Griner was arrested in February 2022 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after authorities discovered vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage.
Her Russian detainment ended in December after months of strained negotiations, with the Biden administration agreeing to exchange Griner for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
“I appreciate everything a little bit more, all of the small moments, like, ‘Oh, I’m so tired I don’t want to go to practice today,’ that has changed, honestly,” she said. “Tomorrow is not guaranteed, you don’t know what it’s going to look like. I feel a lot older somehow, too.”
Griner stated in July 2020 that she didn’t think the national anthem should be played during the WNBA season, adding that she would not be on the court for the anthem if it were to continue to be played before games.
On Friday, Griner’s agent penned an op-ed in Time explaining why Griner intends to stand for the national anthem during the 2023 WNBA season.
“Last year, most WNBA teams chose to remain in their locker rooms during the national anthem, in a gesture of unified protest against the incongruity between the values the anthem signifies and the realities for Black people in America,” Lindsay Kagawa Colas wrote. “This year, as so much remains unchanged, some teams or players may do the same. Others may sit or kneel. Still others, including Brittney Griner, plan to stand up — physically for the anthem itself and symbolically for the rights of their peers to make themselves heard and express dissent loudly and boldly, and in accordance with the proudest traditions of this country, however they see fit.”
Kagawa Colas explained that Griner will make a statement on “American freedoms” by standing for the anthem.