Brittany Griner won the early jump and ran in her normal position under the post.
There was no other place he was going to end up with the ball on the Phoenix Mercury’s first offensive possession of the season, not after Griner reached the point.
With his back to the basket, Griner pretended like he was going to swing the other way and made another move. Chicago’s Elizabeth Williams fouled into the net, Griner resisted contact and passed the ball to start a three-point play.
After all the excitement, Griner pitched a perfect start in his first regular-season home game since he was released after spending more than 10 months in a Russian prison.
“If I was the first option, I would be aggressive and try to shoot,” Griner said.
Griner had his best performance all afternoon with 27 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. The Mercury did their best to win after cutting an 11-point deficit to two in the final minutes.
However, this was not enough.
The Chicago Sky held on for a 75-69 win on Sunday, but Griner’s return was more about playing in front of her family and home fans than when she was in jail on the other side of the world a few months ago.
Mercury’s trainer, Vanessa Nygaard, admitted, “We haven’t quite finished the job tonight, but I’m impressed with Brittany.” Others couldn’t.”
Griner received a warm reception in his only preseason game and again in the Sparks’ season home opener in Los Angeles.
His home set had a completely different vibe.
Many fans wore Griner’s No. 42 jersey and some waved a small black towel with “BG” printed on the front. A little fan held up a sign that read: “I (heart) you bji. Most welcome!”
The 2.05-metre-tall forward stepped behind a wall during his introduction and entered the arena, flanked by flashlights, to a thunderous applause. He had tears in his eyes just before the start of the match.