Before she was locked up in a Russian gulag last year, WNBA player Brittney Griner was better known for her anti-American protests than her basketball skills.
While playing in the 2020 season, Griner stayed in the locker room while the national anthem played and even called on the WNBA to stop playing the “Star-Spangeled Banner” during games.
However, Griner’s un-American position was put to the test when she was arrested in Russia while trying to get on a plane with drugs in her bag.
After being pleading guilty in court, Griner spent several months in a brutal Russian prison.
She was eventually sentenced to nine years in prison in August 2022.
Luckily for Griner, the country that she hates came to her rescue and brought her home.
Unfortunately, the federal government had to exchange Griner for a dangerous arms dealer who was locked up in the United States.
Griner now appeared to have changed her tune about America, however.
The women’s basketball player now predicts she will be overcome with “emotions” upon hearing the national anthem when playing for Team USA at the 2024 Olympics.
“I didn’t think I would ever wear this jersey again. I didn’t know what the future was,” Griner said, according to CNN.
“It’s just a different feeling when you’re playing with USA at the Olympics, representing the whole country when everybody’s tuning in,” she added.
Griner previously protested “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the 2020 WNBA season.
“I honestly feel we should not play the national anthem during our season,” Griner said, according to the Washington Post.
“I think we should take that much of a stand.”
Griner’s team, the Phoenix Mercury, protested the anthem on behalf of Breonna Taylor.
Taylor died during a gunfight between her boyfriend and police during the execution of a search warrant related to drug trafficking.
The man reportedly thought police were intruders and fired first, shooting one officer in the arm.
“I’m not going to be out there for the national anthem,” she said in 2020.
“If the league continues to want to play it, that’s fine.
“It will be all season long, I’ll not be out there.
“I feel like more are going to probably do the same thing.
“I can only speak for myself.”
“We should not play the national anthem during our season,” she later added.
Griner showed signs of changing her mind after being arrested and held in Russia on drug charges.
“He was going to get out in 2029,” said National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby after exchanging Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
“So at some point in the not-too-distant future, he would have been a free man.”
Upon her return to the United States, Griner softened her stance on the anthem and said it “hit different” when she heard it before a game.
When asked to predict her mood if she plays in the 2024 Olympics, Griner said:
“Listening to our anthem and watching the flag go up, it’s gonna be a lot of emotions.
“I probably won’t be able to hold that one back.”
“It’s gonna be a lot,” she added.
“Very, very, very few people will understand that emotion.”
Griner is reportedly in the process of writing a book about her Russian detention.