WNBA star Brittney Griner to stand for anthem after being ‘stripped of her essential American freedoms’
WNBA star Brittney Griner intends to stand for the national anthem during the upcoming season after spending nearly 10 months in a Russian prison, according to her agent.
Griner made headlines last week when she returned to game action with the Phoenix Mercury for the first time since the 2021 WNBA Finals.
Prior to the preseason tilt, Griner and her teammates stood for the national anthem, with Griner saying the anthem “definitely hit different” following her incarceration in Russia.
BRITTNEY GRINER PLAYS IN FIRST GAME SINCE DETAINMENT, SAYS HEARING NATIONAL ANTHEM ‘DEFINITELY HIT DIFFERENT'
It was an about-face from the basketball star, who stated in July 2020 that she didn't feel the national anthem should be played during the WNBA season, adding that she would not be on the court for the anthem if it continued to be played before games.
On Friday, Griner’s agent penned an op-ed in Time explaining why Griner will 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.”
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Kagawa Colas explained that Griner will make a statement on “American freedoms” by standing for the anthem.
“Having been put in a literal cage, too small for her frame, stripped of her essential American freedoms, and deprived of even her most basic rights during a sham trial and unjust sentencing, Brittney, supported by many other players, will make a statement this WNBA season by standing tall for those uniquely American freedoms — the most important of which being the absolute and inviolable and constitutionally protected freedom to stand, sit, kneel, praise, protest, and otherwise make your voice heard,” Kagawa Colas continued.
Griner was arrested in February 2022 at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport after authorities discovered vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage.
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Griner was in Russia playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason, as many WNBA players do in order to make extra money.
“Brittney had been playing in Russia due to pay inequity rooted in racism, sexism, and homophobia,” Kagawa Colas wrote. “The reality that those same forces are what made her an ideal political pawn for Russian President Vladimir Putin kept every WNBA player exceptionally focused and unified — and rallied others, from members of the public to journalists who heeded warnings about Brittney’s safety in an effort to aid her return.”
Griner re-signed with the Mercury in February, returning for her 10th WNBA season, all with Phoenix.
The WNBA season is set to tip off on Friday with four games, including the Mercury taking on the Los Angeles Sparks.