Brittney Griner speaks to media for first time since being released from Russia

Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner held her first press conference since being released from Russian detainment in December and she began by thanking the media for their coverage.

With the WNBA season set to tip off Friday, May 19th, Griner appears to be nearing what will be her first appearance for the Mercury since 2021. Prior to the United States government negotiating her release last December, Griner had been wrongfully detained in a Russian prison since Feb. 2022, when she was held at a Moscow airport on drug smuggling charges for carrying vape cartridges with CBD oil.

Griner’s detainment received global attention and that continued on Thursday, with more than 500 reporters in attendance for her first press conference since being released. It was an unprecedented number of reporters for a WNBA press conference, which Griner noted as she thanked the media for their exposure.

“A little different than a basketball press conference, a lot of media in here today,” Griner said with a smile. “Thank you all for covering me and all the exposure that you gave me, my family, to get me home. That coverage was much needed.

“I would like to encourage all of you to be at our first game as well and the whole entire season,” Griner continued. “Covering not only the Phoenix Mercury…but the whole entire league as well. From start to finish, I expect to see the same coverage. Because we have a great product and you’ll see it this summer.”

The WNBA will be entering its 27th year as a professional league next month and has historically lacked substantial media coverage, while also struggling to receive much marketing or promotional support. But the lack of previous support also means the WNBA is chock full of untapped potential.

In addition to encouraging the media to cover the WNBA’s product and not just her return from a Russian prison, Griner also noted the importance of continuing to fight for others who remain wrongfully detained. Citing her father’s military background, Griner said she carries the mindset of “no one left behind.”

“No one should be in the conditions that I went through or they’re going through,” Griner said of those who remain imprisoned. “I hope everyone continues to bring awareness and fight to bring home everyone.”


About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to