It’s been a couple months since Brittney Griner’s return to the United States and yet it feels like there is more to celebrate after she spent nearly 10 months in Russian prison.
Mercury President Vince Kozar spoke with Business Insider to discuss the emotions the organization has felt throughout the entire process and its plans for Griner once the 2023 season starts. Right now, the organization is just glad to have a valued member of the community back in a safe environment.
“Anyone who’s ever experienced something like that with a family member, you know you never really realize the weight that you’re carrying around until it’s lifted off,” Kozar said. “Certainly a lot of people who love her felt that, and the weight that we were carrying around doesn’t even compare to that of her family or BG herself.”
“We were acutely aware of the way that her return has been used to try and further polarize people,” Kozar said. “We understand that certain [people] have tried to continue to use this to polarize people… and we understand that people have done that through the lens of BG’s identity, which is as a woman, it’s as a Black woman, and it’s as a gay, Black woman.
“None of that is lost on us, and we understand that words oftentimes can be a precursor to violence. And so we take all of that incredibly seriously.”
Business Insider noted, “But sources privy to conversations between the league, the Mercury, and Griner’s camp told Insider the involved parties have not yet reached a consensus regarding how they’ll handle her and her teammates’ transportation for the season.”
The situation with travel will be ongoing as WNBA players push for private air travel. New York Liberty superstar Breanna Stewart has campaigned for the league to open up conversations about partial chartering throughout the season while the league has said it wants to be able to afford chartering over an extended period of time.