Every time either Brittney or Cherelle (or both) Griner have been out in the public eye, the pair has felt nothing but love everywhere they have went.
The year 2023 is a year of mental and physical recovery for both of the Griners following the yearlong ordeal they experienced in 2022 with Brittney detained in Russia.
Prior to when the news broke over the holidays that she was indeed freed, the situation was looking bleak for both her and Cherelle. That is why when it finally took place – and that Cherelle was at the White House with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for the grand occasion, it had to feel like a massive weight was lifted off of her shoulders.
Most recently, the Griners made an appearance at the NAACP Image Awards in Southern California. When they were introduced to the crowd in attendance, Brittney and Cherelle once again experienced an outpouring of love.
One could probably count on one hand the number of dry eyes that were in the Pasadena Civic Auditorium when Brittney and Cherelle were introduced to those that were in attendance.
A haunting aspect of Griner’s detainment in Russia was reports surfacing of how she felt alone and that the ordeal was having a major effect on her mental health. When so many wrote letters to BG letting her know that we were indeed thinking of her, that had to somewhat put her at ease that she was not forgotten about.
Scenes like what we saw when they were introduced at the NAACP Image Awards had to have been a major step in her continued mental healing. And another reminder that both she and Cherelle are indeed beloved.
BG’s resilience has also been something to behold. Almost immediately after she touched back down on American soil in San Antonio, one of the first thing she was reported to have done was dunk a basketball – something she has done on numerous occasions throughout her illustrious career.
Then, Griner announced her intentions to come back to the WNBA. Recently, it was announced that she had indeed re-upped with the Phoenix Mercury on a one-year contract.
And it led us to start thinking once again about the upcoming WNBA season. Remember the applause both she and Cherelle received at the NAACP Image Awards? The Mercury’s first game this season will be on Friday May 19 vs. the Los Angeles Sparks at Crypto.com Arena.
One can expect that the Sparks will receive more media requests to cover that game than for a typical opening night WNBA affair. Everyone will want to see how Griner performs in her first game back in the W since the 2021 WNBA Finals when the Mercury took on the Chicago Sky. But also, when Griner is introduced as part of the Mercury starting five, there probably once again will not be a dry eye inside that gym – as there should not be.
Speaking of the Sky, that is who the Mercury will face in their first home game of the 2023 WNBA season on May 21. One can only imagine the deafening applause Griner will receive once she is introduced as part of Phoenix’s starting five – especially given how the X-factor has consistently packed into Mercury games over the years.
This will be the case throughout this league this coming season. Regardless of where the Mercury play, Griner will be showered with love. This includes Arlington, Texas.
Griner is from Houston and played her college basketball at Baylor. The Mercury will face the Dallas Wings at 8 p.m. on June 7 at the College Park Center. Expect lots of green and gold in the stands in north Texas.
Throughout sports, when great athletes call it a career, they have one more season where fans have a chance to pay their respects. The WNBA itself experienced this last season when Sylvia Fowles and Sue Bird put bows on their respective playing careers.
In many ways, BG’s comeback tour will be far more special than any retirement tour for an outgoing athlete. And her dunking that basketball when she landed in Texas in December shows Griner is ready to come back and make up for lost time. Not to mention, the Griners are using their elevated platform to still advocate for Paul Whelan’s release – and the release of other imprisoned Americans abroad.
It is heartwarming to see both Griners receiving the love that they have received as all of us did our part in making sure their spirits were lifted all of 2022. But what is even more heartwarming is how both Brittney and Cherelle are experiencing that love first hand and that is what makes their continued healing journey all the more special.