The Phoenix Mercury on Saturday announced Brittney Griner won’t be available for their two-game road trip as she’s taking a break to focus on her mental health. According to Sports Illustrated, the team released a statement saying it fully supports the 32-year-old and “will continue to work together on a timeline for her return.”
The Phoenix Mercury is set to play against the Indiana Fever on Tuesday after a 104-85 loss against Chicago Sky on Sunday. As previously reported by Face2Face Africa, Griner rejoined her team after she was detained for almost 10 months in Russian prisons on drug smuggling charges. She was eventually released in a one-for-one prisoner swap for Russian international arms dealer Viktor Bout.
But Griner has reportedly encountered some unpleasant events following her return to the WNBA. In June, a social media personality harassed her at a Dallas airport as she was getting ready to board a commercial plane after their game against the Dallas Wings.
In the wake of the incident, the WNBA allowed Griner to travel via charter flights for the rest of the season for safety reasons. Following that encounter, the nine-time WNBA All-Star shared her concerns about the frequently debated issue of WNBA teams boarding charter flights, saying that the league’s travel arrangements had gotten to “rock bottom”, Sports Illustrated reported.
Griner was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on February 17 for allegedly possessing vaporizer cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage which she reportedly said was used to treat a medical condition. The U.S. basketball star was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony.
The two-time Olympic champion had been playing for the Russian women’s basketball team UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason. The 32-year-old was also part of other WNBA stars who were set to feature for teams in Russia as well as Ukraine over the course of the winter season, the New York Post reported.