In an emotional homecoming, WNBA star Brittney Griner played in her home state of Texas for the first time since being released from Russian detention. Griner was born in Houston and stayed in-state for college, winning a National Championship with Baylor in 2012. However, she has played her entire WNBA career in Phoenix after the Mercury drafted her first overall in 2013.
Griner was in Texas to face the Dallas Wings. The Mercury were hoping to find their second win of the season, entering the matchup 1-3. Meanwhile, the Wings were 3-3 and looking to push their win percentage above .500. Griner was the joint-leading scorer with 24 points. However, a late rally from the Wings soured the evening as the Mercury fell 84-79. The teams will face off again on Friday.
Griner Feels The Love, College Jersey Retirement Teased
Aside from the game against the Wings, Griner also returned to her alma mater to meet the current crop of Baylor players. Furthermore, Baylor head coach Nicki Collen also raised the idea of retiring Griner’s jersey in the near future. “That’s the goal,” Collen said. “We’re opening a new arena. There’s no doubt that I want to see her jersey in the rafters.” Baylor’s new basketball arena, Foster Pavillion, is scheduled to open in January 2024. Collen, who coached Griner in the WNBA, was very keen to re-establish a positive relationship after taking over at Baylor in 2021. Furthermore, this represents a definitive shift in Griner’s relationship with Baylor. Griner’s college coach, Kim Mulkey, openly avoided discussing Griner’s detention in Russia. Furthermore, Griner has previously said that Mulkey demanded she hide her sexuality while Griner was at Baylor.
Griner also spoke about the reception she received in Texas. When her name was announced, the fans at College Park Center went absolutely wild for the veteran center. “It was good seeing everybody and just being back in Texas. I miss being here. When I came out and they announced my name, the love meant a lot to me,” Griner said of the crowd. As mentioned, the Mercury will remain in Texas for a few more days, facing off again on Friday. They will then travel to Indiana for a game on Sunday.