Brittney Griner Decides To Stand For National Anthem After Being Freed From Russian Prison

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James Lynch Contributor
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WNBA star Brittney Griner will stand for the national anthem this season after she was freed from Russian custody in a December 2022 prisoner exchange.

Griner stood for the national anthem ahead of her 2023 debut for the Phoenix Mercury against the Los Angeles Sparks on Friday. “You have the right to protest, the right to able to speak out, question, challenge and do all these things,” Griner said, per ESPN. “What I went through and everything, it just means a little bit more to me now. So I want to be able to stand. I was literally in a cage [in Russia] and could not stand the way I wanted to.”

“Just being able to hear my national anthem, see my flag, I definitely want to stand. Now everybody that will not stand or not come out, I totally support them 100 percent. That’s our right, as an American in this great country,” Griner continued. (RELATED: Black Conservative Activists Comment On Griner Trade, Hope She Is Very Pro-America)

Griner was arrested by Russian authorities in February 2022 at a Moscow airport after she was found carrying marijuana. The basketball star was held in Russian prison until December 2022, when she was freed in exchange for Victor Bout, a Russian arms trafficker known as the “Merchant of Death.”

Her agent, Lindsey Cagawa Colas, wrote an op-ed in Time Magazine Friday about why Griner decided to stand for the anthem this year.

“Brittney, supported by many other players, will make a statement this WNBA season by standing tall for those uniquely American freedoms — the most important of which being the absolute and inviolable and constitutionally protected freedom to stand, sit, kneel, praise, protest, and otherwise make your voice heard,” Colas wrote.

Before her stint in Russian prison, Griner, an outspoken left-wing activist, called for the national anthem to not be played before WNBA games. “I honestly feel we should not play the national anthem during our season,” she said in July 2020, according to Arizona Republic. “I think we should take that much of a stand.”

Griner scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds in the Mercury’s 94-71 loss to Los Angeles in front of Vice President Kamala Harris and 10,396 fans.