Brittney Griner: 'I'm never going overseas to play again.' She'll make one exception

WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner speaks at a news conference, Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Phoenix.
WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner speaks at a news conference Thursday in Phoenix. (Matt York / Associated Press)

Brittney Griner is done playing overseas.

With one possible exception.

Speaking to reporters for the first time since being released from Russian detainment in December, the Phoenix Mercury star said she will no longer play professional basketball in Russia or anywhere else outside of the U.S.

"I'm never going overseas to play again, unless I'm representing my country at the Olympics," said Griner, who was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February 2022 after Russian authorities said she was carrying vape canisters with cannabis oil. "If I make that team, that would be the only time I would leave the U.S. soil and that's just to represent the USA."

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More than 100 people attended Griner's news conference Thursday at Footprint Center, the Mercury's home arena. As the seven-time All-Star and two-time defensive player of the year approached the microphone, she was greeted by loud cheers and rousing applause.

"First off, thank y'all for covering me and all the exposure that you gave me, my family to get me home," she said. "I really appreciate it. That coverage was much needed."

Griner became emotional while answering a question about how she found the resiliency to make it through her ordeal.

WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner fights back tears at a news conference.
WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner fights back tears at a news conference. (Matt York / Associated Press)

“Just digging deep, honestly," she said. "You’re going to be faced with adversities throughout your life. This was a pretty big one, but I just kind of relied on my hard work, getting through it. I know this sounds so small but dying in practice and just hard workouts, you find a way to just grind it out. Just put your head down and just keep going, just keep moving forward."


While Griner has no intention of joining an overseas team again, she said she understands why many of her fellow WNBA players will need to continue doing so.

"The whole reason a lot of us go over is the pay gap. A lot of us go over there to make income to support our families, to support ourselves," Griner said. "So I don't knock any player that wants to go overseas and make a little bit extra money."

She added that she hopes that won't be the case for much longer.

"I'm hoping that our league continues to grow and with as many people in here right now covering this, I hope you continue to cover our league, bring exposure to us," she said. "I hope a lot of these companies start to invest in our craft, 'cause as you'll see this season if you haven't watched before, we have a really good craft in the WNBA."

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.