Britney Griner’s return with Phoenix Mercury shows fan affection and her skills

Phoenix — Britney Greiner I often say it’s hard to get over her.

The most literal manifestation of that is on the court. Her size discourages most opponents from even challenging her, and those who attempt to try her out within her paint often find her shots rejected and forgotten. On the inside, she’s usually good at controlling her own emotions, keeping a steely look to her floor and letting her own game speak for itself. Greiner, too, isn’t as easily surprised as when Vice President Kamala Harris showed up in Los Angeles for Greiner’s first regular-season game of the season on Friday. phoenix The superstar caught rumors of a visit beforehand.

But the trauma of the past year has left her looking cracked, and celebrating her comeback can be emotional. During the pre-game ceremony at the Footprint Center before Greiner played his first match in front of his home fans since being released from prison in Russia on Sunday, Mercury hailed Skyler Gray’s “coming home.” ‘, but Greiner admitted he was a little dusty, jokingly chastising team chairman Vince Cozar for “putting her down” on that song.

Kozar said. The Athletic It was a team effort to keep Greiner confidential about the details of her introduction, and no other songs were considered at that particular moment. It had to be this.

go home go hometell the world i’m coming
I’m back in my place, never felt so strong

Greiner took the words to heart, repeating Diddy’s poem towards the end of the game when he began to really feel himself. She scored nine points in the first half, but she added 11 more in the third quarter.At the end of the quarter, 2nd year guard Sag Sutton He found Greiner behind him and scored a 3-point shot for the seventh triple of Greiner’s career. After she sunk a shot to pull Phoenix within five points, she roused the crowd to yell “I’m back,” prompting an impromptu stoppage with 39 seconds remaining in the quarter. In Mercury’s 75-69 loss, she had 27 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. chicago sky.

Perhaps Greiner may have found reasons for discretion at other moments in his career, but not this time. It was a feeling Greiner couldn’t push away, even though he insisted after the game that he was trying not to get caught up in rumors about his return to the court.

“That moment was very special,” Greiner said. “It brought me back to playing last season. It felt so good, honestly. It was a crazy moment.

Part of the beauty of this play was that Griner was celebrated as a basketball player. She will welcome her love from fans and players who are happy to see her on her human level. But Greiner also wants to get back to her job. Draining her jumper and keeping her team alive in an 11-point game is a moment she wants to return to more regularly.

There will be the necessary glitz and circumstance for Greiner to complete a reunion tour around the league after returning to the United States in December. She will draw her celebrities into her game.match on friday Sparks The event included not only a visit from the Vice President, but also former Team USA coaches Dawn Staley, Billie Jean King, Commissioner Kathy Engelbart, and Los Angeles stars including Michael Cooper, Pau Gasol and Magic Johnson. It also included a long list of Lakers legends. Sunday featured Olympic champion Simone Manuel, Jaylen Rose and members of the Phoenix Suns. New Mercury & Sons owner Matt Ishbier was also in the game, along with Griner’s wife Sherrell.

Players and coaches alike want to see Greiner as much as she does. She mourned the death of her mother and offered her condolences to Sparks coach Kurt Miller when the two met at the Arena last summer.Greiner pounced on rookie Gia CookAfter the game, when I met Cook for the first time in a preseason game a week ago, she told me, “Don’t do it next time, just keep killing.” Greiner gave Sky head coach James Wade (a former assistant to the Russian team she played for, UMMC Yekaterinburg) a bear hug, and Wade stopped thinking about the reunion before the game because it was too distracting. said I had to.

Eventually, the outside noise will die down and Greiner will be a basketball player again. She’ll post up, collect entry passes, and turn her around to face the best center in the league. She intends to improve her chemistry with her new teammates and keep the ball from going over her head on her halfcourt. She keeps blocking shots that seem to be certain finishes. Kahlea copper She thought she had defeated the two-time Olympian in reverse, but the attempt turned out to be negated.

After two games, Greiner has already exceeded the effective time limit, which limits stints to five minutes each quarter. On Sunday, Griner played 17 minutes of the second half as Mercury sought his first win, but ultimately fell short.

“I don’t think of myself as a dummy,” Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said after the game. “But she was scoring every time she touched the ball. We needed her because she did it, she fought fatigue tonight, and with every match we have, I think you’ll get to see a little more from her.”

Greiner said he wants to get back to himself when it comes to productivity and conditioning before the All-Star break in mid-July. She never thought she’d volunteer to play 40 minutes, but it became her new goal as she regained her wind and stability on the court.

But she needs it. Even though she lost, basketball has been her solace. Being angry when she or her team isn’t performing well has helped her to be herself.

“No matter how long you’ve been out of the game, you’ll never lose it,” Greiner said. “I still have those burns. I still have that guts.

“I made it through the first game, I made it through this time, but it didn’t give me the results I wanted.

(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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