Brittney Griner is standing for the national anthem and the 'uniquely American freedoms' it represents during the WNBA season
- Brittney Griner will stand for the national anthem during the 2023 WNBA season, her agent says.
- The star wants to highlight the "uniquely American freedoms" she lost while in Russian detainment.
Brittney Griner lost everything — and was "stripped of her essential American freedoms" — during the 10 months she spent detained in Russia in 2022.
And now that she's home and back to playing the sport she loves, the WNBA superstar has opted to stand for the national anthem throughout the 2023 season. Her agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas penned an essay for Time magazine, published Friday, where she explained the reasoning behind Griner's choice "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."
"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," Colas wrote.
The perennial WNBA All-Star spent 294 days in Russian custody — and, for some time, at a penal colony — after her arrest and subsequent conviction on drugs charges. The US government deemed her wrongfully detained several months after her initial arrest, and thanks to a prisoner exchange between the White House and Moscow, Griner returned home in time for the 2022 holidays.
Though those closest to the 6-foot-9 superstar said she deserves "however long she needs to heal" before basketball re-enters the conversation, she almost immediately confirmed her intention to return for the 2023 WNBA season. Five months later, she made her WNBA re-debut as her Phoenix Mercury took on the Los Angeles Sparks on the road Friday night.
In past years, Griner has advocated against playing the national anthem ahead of sporting events. She joined several WNBA peers by remaining in the locker room for pregame festivities during the 2021 season.
But with none other than Vice President Kamala Harris — who was pivotal in the fight to bring the Mercury star back stateside — in attendance for her re-debut, Griner stood as "The Star-Spangled Banner" blared through Crypto.com Arena.
"One good thing about this country is you have the right to protest," Griner said after scoring 18 points against the Sparks during a postgame press conference on Friday night. "What I went through with everything — it just means a little bit more to me now, so I want to be able to stand. I was literally in a cage and could not stand the way I wanted to... Just being able to hear my national anthem, see my flag, I definitely want to stand."
"Anyone that will not stand, will not come out; I totally support them 100%," she added.
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