The team announced on Saturday that Brittany Griner will “step away from the upcoming road trip with Phoenix Mercury to focus on her mental well-being.” The WNBA star will miss at least two games during the team’s travel to Chicago and Indiana this week. However, Mercury stated that they are giving the necessary time for Griner’s return, and she is still finalizing a timeline for her comeback to the court.
The phoneix mercury full statement:
“Mercury center Brittney Griner will not travel with the team on its upcoming two-game road trip to Chicago and Indiana (July 30-August 1) to focus on her mental health. The Mercury fully support Brittney and we will continue to work together on a timeline for her return”
Mercury center Brittany Griner has decided not to go with the team on its upcoming two-game road trip to Chicago and Indiana (July 30-August 1). Instead, she will put her mental health first.The Mercury team sent a statement on social media on Saturday afternoon saying that they “fully support Brittany and will continue to work with her to choose a return date.
When will Brittany Griner return?
As of now, there is no specific timeline for Griner’s return, according to Mercury’s statement. She is expected to miss at least Tuesday’s game against the Fever due to fever, and possibly more.
The Olympic gold medalist and experienced WNBA All-Star, Griner, made her comeback to the league at the beginning of this year after being released from detention in Russia. Griner had participated in 20 out of 23 games for Phoenix during her first season after her high-profile detention in Russia, which lasted nearly ten months. Before her detention in Russian prisons on charges of drug possession, she had been released in a high-profile prisoner exchange with a detained arms dealer in the United States in December.
A few months after her return home, Griner re-signed with the Phoenix Mercury on a new contract, rejoining the team she played for years before her detention. She recorded her first official game-time presence this season when she played against the Los Angeles Sparks in May. About a month later, she made her first All-Star Game appearance after her comeback
Between her nine months of detention in Russia and her return to the United States, Griner’s story became one that drew significant attention from various corners of the WNBA – and in some areas, it faced criticism. Rather than taking time off, she chose to restart her career as quickly as possible. At the start of the season, Griner was at the center of an incident where she was harassed by a YouTuber at a public terminal of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Before being escorted away by security, the provocateur asked her deliberately provocative questions and claimed that she hated America. The incident put pressure on the WNBA to approve charter flights for players, a request the league had previously opposed. The league did eventually grant Griner the permission, although it seemed to be limited to only two private charter flights as part of her “hybrid plan,” requiring additional approvals for more flights.
STATICS FOR BRITTNEY GRINER:
Despite the struggles off the court, Griner has been a bright spot for the struggling Mercury team, currently standing at 10th place with a 6-17 record in the WNBA standings. The 6-foot-9 center has been leading Phoenix in every category, averaging 18.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game, and recently earned her ninth All-Star selection.
With Griner out for this road trip, the Phoenix team will have to secure victories against the 8th-place Chicago and 11th-place Indiana to bolster their chances of making it to the playoffs. Mercury has not missed the playoffs since 2012. Meanwhile, besides Griner, guard Diana Taurasi is also out due to a quad injury and a toe fracture on her left foot. WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, Taurasi has played in 16 games this season and is just 71 points away from reaching the milestone of 10,000 career points.
Following the All-Star game, Griner expressed to the press, “This means everything to me.” “Honestly, I didn’t think I would be here today, but everyone is sending letters, sending love, posting. I’m still seeing everything that everyone did. It really matters to me, it gave me hope, it made me not want to give it up for anything, so this league was the one that helped me.”