Brittney Griner says she’ll only play overseas again under one condition
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Brittney Griner has said she’ll only ever play overseas again under one condition, following a 10-month detainment in Russia on drug-related charges.
Russian customs detained the 32-year-old WNBA star in February 2022 after discovering cannabis oil in her luggage, and she faced smuggling charges.
It wasn’t until last December that she was released from custody, after being behind bars for 10 months.
Now Griner has vowed never to play overseas ever again – apart from in one specific context.
In her first press conference since returning to the US, she told reporters: "I can say, for me, I'm never going overseas to play again unless I'm representing my country at the Olympics.”
She said the reason she and other WNBA players play abroad in the first place during off-season is down to the disparity in pay between their league and the NBA.
"It's a shame that we have to leave our families for holidays," she continued.
"I mean, you're missing everything, being away. But, at the same time, as much as I would love to pay my light bill for the love of the game, I can't. So I think that's probably one of the biggest reasons people are still going overseas. And that's why I was there. Hopefully that changes, though."
After arriving in Russia in February last year, Griner was jailed on drug charges and underwent a trial that July - pleading guilty, but claiming she had no criminal intent when she brought the cannabis oil into the country.
She claimed the canisters had been packed by accident as she prepared for her flight, and that they had been prescribed to her to treat chronic pain.
Griner was freed on 8 December as part of a negotiation deal signed off by US President Joe Biden.
She was released in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who Russian President Vladimir Putin has been seeking to get back after he was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the US.
Biden's administration had initially sought the release of both Griner and American corporate security executive Paul Whelan, but the president eventually signed off on the negotiation despite the fact it meant leaving Whelan behind.