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Brittney Griner on standing for national anthem: 'Means a little bit more to me now'

Griner stood for the anthem before the game Friday, but she and other basketball players had knelt during the anthem in 2020 as part of social justice protests.

Published: May 21, 2023 7:55am

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner said she stood for the "Star Spangled Banner" before her first WNBA game since she was released from Russian captivity because the national anthem "means a bit more to me now."

Griner played her first official WNBA game Friday since returning to the United States in December when she was released in a prisoner swap after being incarcerated for 10 months in Russia for cannabis possession. 

Griner stood for the anthem before the game Friday, but she and other basketball players had knelt during the anthem in 2020 as part of social justice protests.

When asked after the game about how she stood for the anthem, Griner said, "You have the right to protest, the right to [be] able to speak out, question, challenge and do all these things," according to 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," she also said.

"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."

While the Phoenix Mercury lost 94-71 to Los Angeles during the game Friday, Griner finished with 18 points and multiple rebounds and blocked shots in 25 minutes. 

Madeleine Hubbard is an international correspondent for Just the News. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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