Brittney Griner skipping two-game road trip to focus on mental health, team announces

WNBA star Brittney Griner will be skipping an upcoming two-game trip to Chicago this Sunday, choosing instead to focus on her mental health, according to her team.

The Phoenix Mercury made the announcement on Saturday afternoon.

“Mercury center Brittney Griner will not travel with the team on its upcoming two-game road trip to Chicago and Indiana (July 30-August 1) to focus on her mental health,” the team wrote on X. “The Mercury fully support Brittney and we will continue to work together on a timeline for her return.”

As BizPac Review reported in December 2022, Griner made international headlines when, after being arrested in Russia for packing cannabis-infused vape canisters in her luggage, the Biden administration orchestrated one of what many considered to be the most lopsided prisoner swaps in history.

Griner, who spent nearly 10 months in a Russian jail, was traded for the “Merchant of Death,” international arms dealer Viktor Bout. Marine veteran Paul Whelan, who had been languishing in a Russian prison for nearly four years, was left behind in the controversial exchange.

In May, Griner’s triumphant return to the basketball court was met with a less-than-sold-out crowd — a fact that irritated Pheonix Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard.

“It was great, but like honestly, come on LA. We didn’t sell out the arena for BG,” Nygaard told reporters following Griner’s first game. “Like, I expected more. You know, to be honest, like it was great, it was loud, but how was it not a sellout? How was it not a sellout?”

With the announcement that she will be prioritizing her mental health over playing basketball, Griner became the latest in a string of top female athletes to take a wellness break.

In 2021, tennis star Naomi Osaka, ranked at the time No. 2 in the world, was fined $15,000 after she skipped the news conference following her first-round French Open victory for “mental health.”

Ultimately, she withdrew from the French Open altogether, and later, she pulled out of Wimbledon.

“The U.S. Open subsequently announced that players would have access to licensed mental health providers and quiet rooms,” according to NBC News.

And, also in 2021, gymnastic phenom Simone Biles shocked the world when she withdrew from several Tokyo Olympics events, also citing mental health issues.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Bout joined Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a so-called “far right” party formerly known as the Liberal Democratic Party of the Soviet Union, and has reportedly been encouraged to run for office in the regional legislature.




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