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Brittney Griner ‘can’t wait’ to get back to Baylor, have jersey retired

Fans welcomed former Baylor star Brittney Griner home to Texas as Griner's Phoenix Mercury faced the Dallas Wings. (Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

Brittney Griner received a warm welcome back to her home state of Texas as the Baylor women’s basketball team visited with the star Wednesday before she and the Phoenix Mercury faced the Dallas Wings.

A friendly crowd cheered the former Baylor star as she took the court in Texas for the first time since she was detained in Russia last year. Along with the Bears, her high school coach, her AAU team, her wife and many other family members attended the game.

While the Wings came out on top with an 84-79 win over the Mercury, Griner still appreciated her homecoming.

“Just a lot of support. It was good seeing everybody and just being back in Texas,” Griner said. “I miss being here. When I came out and they announced my name, the love meant a lot to me.”

After the Baylor team visited with Griner, Bears head coach Nicki Collen made a promise: Griner’s jersey will be retired at her alma mater. The Bears are set to open their new arena Foster Pavilion in January 2024, and Collen wants to see Griner’s name honored among the Baylor legends.

“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.”

The relationship between Baylor and Griner, who is arguably the best player in program history, has been strained at times, particularly after the star player and former head coach Kim Mulkey had a falling-out.

One reason Griner hasn’t had her jersey retired yet was because she needed to complete her degree, which she now has, she said. And with Collen replacing Mulkey at the helm in 2021, the two sides started forging a renewed bond.

“I would love to see my jersey up in the rafters and everything,” Griner said. “Once [Nick Collen] got there the doors really opened up, and the love and support, a lot of people think it’s a hate relationship. And it’s not.”

As for getting back to watch a game this upcoming season, Griner says she “can’t wait.” She wants to return the favor, noting that it “meant a lot” to have the women’s team in Dallas for the Mercury game.

“I played some of my best basketball there, met some really amazing people there, met my wife there,” Griner said of Baylor. “It’s safe to say I’m never going overseas to play ball again, so in the offseason, I’ll be able to actually go and see games. Be there and just walk the same halls that I walked before.

“It was amazing to have [the Baylor team] here. Since the moment [Collen] hit Baylor campus, we’ve been talking back and forth and everything, and the love and support is there. I love Baylor. Without that, I don’t get to where I’m at right here. Can’t wait to see everybody there when I get down to Waco.”