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Brittney Griner makes an impression in Phoenix homecoming: ‘I’m back’

Brittney Griner reacts after hitting a 3-pointer in her first game back in Phoenix since 2021. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Brittney Griner didn’t skip a beat in her first home game in Phoenix since 2021.

The Mercury center had a 27-point, 10-rebound double-double, and yet her impressive performance in the Mercury’s 75-69 loss to the Chicago Sky was far from the most important moment of the day.

Instead, Griner’s play provided the icing on the cake at the celebration of her homecoming after her 10-month detainment in Russia. A packed Footprint Center crowd welcomed her as “Coming Home” by Diddy and Dirty Money played over a video tribute.

“There may have been a little dust in my eye,” Griner said. “It was emotional in the back, just hearing, seeing some of the clips and then coming out. But, no, it was really good. It was really good. Part of the process of healing is just kind of letting it out. So, yeah, nah, I got choked up a little bit. Tried to hide it but you caught it”

Sunday also marked the first time that her parents had seen her play in person in more than a decade.

“That was amazing,” Griner said. “I don’t think I’ve played in front of everybody in one place, honestly, since high school, honestly. So, just having everybody here right now and, like I said before, didn’t know when that was going to happen, if it would happen, depending on how long it was, it could have been a lot different.

“So just having them here, just spending time with them, playing in front of them. I mean, that got me choked up. Yeah, that one got me.”

Griner scored the first points of the game for Phoenix. But if you ask the 32-year-old center, she’s still getting back into form – despite also having 18 points and four blocks in the team’s season opener Friday.

She hit a 3-pointer on Sunday, just the seventh of her career, and yelled “I’m back” while celebrating.

“That moment was very special, honestly,” Griner said. “It took me back to my last season playing. Just felt really good, honestly. It was a crazy moment.”

If you ask Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard, it was an emotional but “amazing” day. But she continues to be impressed by Griner.

“I just continued to be impressed with BG,” Nygaard said. “BG is somebody that can handle so many things, clearly, that many people could not handle. So, I was just really happy to have her back on the court tonight and just to feel the love from all of our fans.”