(NewsReady.com) – When Russian authorities arrested Brittney Griner in 2022, some Americans mocked her because of her previous position on kneeling for the national anthem. In a 2020 interview, she said the WNBA shouldn’t even play the song before games. Now, it seems she has had a change of heart.
Griner returned to the court on May 21 after coming home from Russia in December. The Phoenix Mercury center played her first regular home game since 2021. She cried when she ran onto the court and proceeded to score as if she’d never been gone.
Before the team’s first game at home, Griner spoke to reporters. Jemele Hill from The Atlantic asked her why she is now standing for the national anthem after being so vocal about not wanting it to even be played at WNBA games.
The Phoenix player responded that one of the best parts about America is that people “have the right to protest.” She said everyone has the “right to be able to speak out, question, [and] challenge.” Griner explained that after what she went through in Russia, “it just means a little bit more” to her these days. She said she wants to stand because while she was incarcerated, she was “literally in a cage” and wasn’t able to stand the way she wanted to.
Griner explained that being able to see the American flag and listen to the national anthem makes her “definitely … want to stand.”
The basketball star made it clear that she isn’t looking down on people who take a different approach to her. She said she thinks that the decision is up to the individual player, explaining that it’s their right as an American to protest the way they want.
Russia sentenced Griner to nine years in prison for allegedly smuggling drugs into the country. The country released her after the US traded notorious arms dealer Viktor “Merchant of Death” Bout for her.
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