Phoenix Mercury superstar Britney Greener celebrated a successful return to the WNBA All-Star Game on Saturday for the first time since her release from a Russian penitentiary last December.
Nine-time WNBA All-Star Griner finished with 18 points, including scoring her team’s first six points and dunking twice in Team Stewart’s 143-127 win over Team Wilson at the 2023 All-Star Game in Las Vegas.
“It meant everything to me,” Griner said to a sold-out crowd after the game. “I didn’t think I would be here today, honestly, but everyone sends letters, sends love, publishes. I still see everything everyone did. It really meant a lot to me, it gave me hope. it made me not want to just give it up, so it was this league that helped me.”
Griner’s arrest in Russia last year sparked a diplomatic drama between the US and the Kremlin that played out at the same time as Russia’s war in Ukraine. In early August, Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison and transferred to a penal colony, and was released in December as a result of a prisoner exchange.
“I just love being here, I love competing, I love just doing everything for the fans. They do everything for us. Without them, we wouldn’t be here,” Griner said. “I’m honored to be on this court.”
Team Stewart was led by Breanna Stewart of the New York Liberty, who finished with nine points and nine assists, while Team Wilson was led by current league MVP Aja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces. Wilson finished with a 20-point loss.
Team Wilson defeated Team Stewart at last year’s All-Star Game in Chicago.
The WNBA’s leading scorer this season, Jewell Loyd of the Seattle Storm, earned the MVP award after scoring an All-Star game-high 31 points and 10 three-pointers for Stewart’s team, adding four rebounds and six assists to the win.
The Golden Mamba’s 31 points beat the previous record of 30 held by Maya Moore and last year’s All-Star Kelsey Plum.
“Three is more than two, I think I told Sabrina [Ionescu] that I’m going to put in a lot of triples, – said Loyd after the game, breaking the record. “Honestly, this is a special moment, it’s great for the league and I’m happy that I was able to do it for my family. .”
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced on Saturday that Phoenix will be the host city of the 2024 WNBA All-Star Game.