SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Brittney Griner has returned to the United States, nearly 10 months after the basketball star’s detention in Russia made her the most high-profile American jailed abroad and set off a political firestorm.
Griner’s status as an openly gay Black woman, her prominence in women’s basketball and her imprisonment in a country where authorities have been hostile to the LGBTQ community brought tremendous attention to her case.
Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine after her arrest complicated matters further.
The deal saw Griner exchanged Thursday for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. But the U.S. failed to win freedom for another American.
Asked if more such swaps could happen, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that “everything is possible.”
WNBA players still competing overseas
More than half of WNBA players are competing abroad this winter to supplement their incomes. But due to the 10-month saga that All-Star Brittney Griner endured in Russia, her colleagues avoided that country and are fanned out in Australia, Turkey, Italy and other places.
The WNBA and NBA salaries are vastly different. And playing overseas can be lucrative for professional women’s players. But the WNBA has increased its marketing deals with players to have them stay in the U.S. during the offseason and promote the league.