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Brittney Griner Shines Bright In WNBA All-Star Game

Brittney Griner shined in her return to the WNBA All-Star Game, posting 18 points, 12 boards, and two blocks, not to mention two dunks that electrified the Las Vegas crowd.

Griner was clearly emotional during her first All-Star appearance since her 10-month detainment in Russia. Before the game began and the teams were introduced, the crowd went wild when her name was called, and she placed her hand on her chest.


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Postgame, Griner told ESPN, “What you see on the court is fun, but in the locker room before the game, that’s where all the little moments that you take away always happen.” 

Griner was involved in the game’s biggest moments. Her first bucket was the one she’s been known for since her high school days at Houston’s Nimitz High School: a signature one-hand flush. She seemed to enjoy every second of the game, often flashing a huge grin as she moved up and down the court.

It’s fitting that Griner was the centerpiece of the game, as just a year ago she was the heartbeat of everything the WNBA did during her detainment in Russia. The league and its players dedicated the 2022 season to Griner, and many players kept in as much contact as they were allowed, often sending the 6’8 center emails through an account her agent had set up. 

It also follows that Griner was the first pick of New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart, who in addition to compiling another MVP-caliber season is organizing a league of her own.

Post-Griner detainment, the WNBA moved to create a prioritization rule requiring players to return from their overseas teams before the season start date of May 19. This year, players were fined for missing the deadline; starting 2024, they will face possible suspension from play. 

A big part of the reason basketball stars are willing to travel abroad to play is that they can make three times their WNBA supermax salary overseas. Stewart and Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier hope to bridge that finance gap with a 3-on-3 league based in Miami that will reportedly pay players close to their current league salaries in the offseason. 

Griner was asked about her potential involvement in the league ahead of the All-Star Game. “Well, I’m never going overseas again, so I think I’m free,” Griner said, laughing. “But I think it’s amazing what they’re doing. Whether I play in it or not, I’m definitely going to be around and watching and being there.”

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