Brittney Griner’s Renewed Love of Flag After Jail in Russia, Will Stand for National Anthem

Women’s basketball star Brittney Griner is back on the court and has come away from her time in a Russian penal colony with a different point of view, saying that she ‘appreciates everything more’ after returning to the United States.

In a surprising turnaround, Griner also said that she has a renewed appreciation for the United States and now intends to stand for the National Anthem after previously refusing to.

‘I was literally in a cage and could not stand the way I wanted to,’ she said. ‘Just being able to hear my national anthem and see my flag, I definitely want to stand.’

Griner previously said that she would not even be in the same room as the national anthem was being played at sporting events.

“I’m not going to be out there for the national anthem,” she told the Arizona Republic. “If the league continues to want to play it, that’s fine. It will be all season long, I’ll not be out there. I feel like more are going to probably do the same thing.”

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Now she has heaped praise on the national anthem, saying it ‘hits different’ and implied it instills a sense of national pride in her.

“Hearing the national anthem, it definitely hit different,” Griner said. “It’s like when you go for the Olympics. You’re sitting there, about to get gold put on your neck. The flags are going up and the anthem is playing. It just hits different.”

Griner posted a decent performance on her first game back in the WNBA, scoring 18 points, grabbing six rebounds and four blocks Friday night for the Phoenix Mercury.

The team ultimately lost 94-71 against the Los Angeles Sparks.

‘Not good enough, didn’t get the dub,’ said Griner. Still, she wasn’t deterred from enjoying the experience of being back on the court for the first time in roughly a year and a half.

‘I appreciate everything a little bit more, all of the small moments, like, “Oh, I’m so tired, I don’t want to go to practice today,” that has changed, honestly,’ she said.

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She received a standing ovation at the arena as she walked onto the court during warmups.

Griner said that her experience in a Russian prison matured her quickly over a short period of time.

‘Tomorrow is not guaranteed, you don’t know what it’s going to look like. I feel a lot older somehow, too.’

She is still not in the physical condition to play a full game but hopes to be by July for the all-star game.

‘I hope to be exactly where I want to be,’ Griner said. ‘Just getting back to how I was before all this happened.’

Phoenix coach Vanessa Nygaard opened up about the experience she and the rest of the team had during Griner’s time in jail.

‘Until the day we got the news in the morning that she was on her way home, no one thought that it was going to happen,’ Nygaard said. ‘We did our jobs probably with less joy than professional athletes do. It was heavy every day.’

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