OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
WNBA star Brittney Griner returned to the league for her first game since being detained in a Russian prison and one thing changed drastically for her.
She scored 10 points in her team’s final preseason game, her first competitive game since the 2021 WNBA Finals, but that was not the story.
Griner, who at one time said she did not think the National Anthem should be played before games, has a newfound appreciation for it.
“Hearing the national anthem, it definitely hit different,” she 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.
“Being here today … it means a lot,” she said.
She and her teammates stood for the National Anthem before the game.
“We looked at each other, and we just had chills,” Phoenix Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said. “We were here last year for all of it. I’m getting emotional about it now. Just to see her back out there — it’s an absolute miracle. It was amazing. It’s giving me chills again.”
Britney Griner talking on the podium discusses about whether it felt differently when the National Anthem hit.#ValleyTogether#WNBA pic.twitter.com/G0TUMJUPG4
— Burn City Sports (@BurnCitySports) May 13, 2023
In July, 2020 Griner was not singing the same tune. It was at the time of the nationwide protests for George Floyd and, while she said that she “meant no disrespect” she believed that the National Anthem should not be played before games.
“I honestly feel we should not play the National Anthem during our season,” the star, who even then was one of the best players in the WNBA, said, The Arizona Republic reported. “I think we should take that much of a stand.
“I don’t mean that in any disrespect to our country. My dad was in Vietnam and a law officer for 30 years. I wanted to be a cop before basketball. I do have pride for my country,” she said.
She went as far as to say that she would have walked off the court if the Anthem was played.
“I’m going to protest regardless,” the WNBA star said. “I’m not going to be out there for the National Anthem. 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. I can only speak for myself.
“At the Olympics, I understand, you’re playing for your country at that point,” she said.
As Americans we have freedom, and one of those freedoms is the freedom to protest. And if Griner believed she should protest by not standing for the Anthem then she was within her rights.
But it is astounding what some time in a Russian prison can do to change a person’s perspective on things, and it is nice to see that she has decided to participate in the Anthem celebration prior to games.
There were many responses to her decision to stand for the Anthem.
“Privileged basketball player Brittney Griner, who once argued that the National Anthem shouldn’t be played, has finally found some respect for her great country,” Collin Rugg said.
Privileged basketball player Brittney Griner, who once argued that the National Anthem shouldn’t be played, has finally found some respect for her great country.
On Friday evening, Griner spoke out after she stood for the National Anthem.
"Hearing the national anthem, it… pic.twitter.com/2dIrdtKsld
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) May 13, 2023
“Nothing makes you appreciate America… warts and all… more than traveling overseas. This young lady thought she was facing injustice at home. Turns out… she didn’t know how good she had it,” another Twitter user said.
Nothing makes you appreciate America… warts and all… more than traveling overseas. This young lady thought she was facing injustice at home. Turns out… she didn’t know how good she had it.https://t.co/Sd4YGMoQoG
— Wildomar999 (@Wildomar9991) May 13, 2023
“If only someone had told you that the US is a great place you wouldn’t have had to spend ten months in a Russian prison to learn that,” another said.
If only someone had told you that the US is a great place you wouldn’t have had to spend ten months in a Russian prison to learn that.
Brittney Griner plays in first game since detainment, says hearing national anthem 'definitely hit different' https://t.co/DkCDUXjEdg #FoxNews
— Creola Soul (@CreolaSoul) May 13, 2023
Funny how you love this country and stand now after they got you out of prison for something you knew you shouldn't dohttps://t.co/9BRsMYSkMV
— Jason (@jstark20) May 13, 2023
“Funny how you love this country and stand now after they got you out of prison for something you knew you shouldn’t do,” another person said.