Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner said that she’s willing to play for Team USA in the 2024 Paris Olympics. During her exit interview with reporters on Monday, following the conclusion of the WNBA regular season, Griner was asked about her international team future and said, “If I get the invite, I’ll go.”
Griner has been a key figure for Team USA for the past decade, helping the team win Olympic gold in 2016 and 2020, and World Cup gold in 2014 and 2018. In the Tokyo Olympics she went off for 30 points, five rebounds and three blocks in the gold medal game against Japan to lead Team USA to a comfortable win and set a new record for points in a gold medal game.
Of course, cirumstances changed drastically in February 2022, when Griner was arrested on drug charges in Russia and sentenced to nine years in prison. She ultimately served 10 months before the United States negotiated a prisoner swap with Russia that allowed her to return home.
Like many WNBA players Griner spent her winters playing overseas to earn extra money, and had been traveling to Russia to join up with UMMC Ekaterinburg, a club she had played for since 2014. Upon her release, Griner understandably said that she was done playing internationally except for the Olympics, and hoped that one day players wouldn’t have to play year-round.
“I can say, for me, I’m never going overseas to play again unless I’m representing my country at the Olympics, Griner said. “It’s a shame that we have to leave our families for holidays. 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.”
In her return to the WNBA this season, Griner played 31 games for the Mercury, who were beset by injuries and finished in last place to end their 10-year playoff streak. She averaged 17.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, while shooting 56% from the field, and was named an All-Star starter.
Team USA has already qualified for the 2024 Olympics, and most recently held a training camp in February. The team for Paris will be finalized some time next summer. After confirming her interest, Griner figures to be a lock to make the team.