Phoenix Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard bemoaned the fact there wasn’t a sellout crowd for Brittney Griner’s triumphant return to the game after nearly a year embroiled in the Russian prison system.
Friday was Griner’s official return to the court after spending ten months being arrested, tried, and convicted of a drug offense in Moscow last year. Griner scored 18 points, grabbed six rebounds, and made four blocks and two assists during her team’s loss to the Sparks at L.A.’s Crypto.com arena.
But coach Nygaard was miffed that the stands weren’t exactly overflowing with fans for Griner’s return to the game.
“I mean, it was great. But like honestly, c’mon now LA. We didn’t sell out the arena for BG?” Nygaard said, according to Fox News. “Like, I expected more, you know, to be honest. Right, it was great, it was loud. But how was it not a sellout? How was it not a sellout?”
Phoenix Mercury head coach wants to know why Brittney Griner’s debut didn’t sell out the arena ὄ
“How was it not a sellout?” pic.twitter.com/YlQtF9utrA
— Sportsville (@Sportsville_) May 20, 2023
Griner also had one small disappointment from Friday’s game; her team lost.
“It was nice to be back on the court and in a real game and everything. The love from the fans who came out was amazing and the players. I definitely felt it and I felt it when I was there (Russia),” she said. “It was nice, but performance-wise, it wasn’t good enough because I couldn’t help the team with a dub.”
Not many on Twitter were very sympathetic over coach Nygaard’s lament about the crowd:
Turns out, every person interested in the WNBA was in that arena.
— T.J. Moe (@TJMoe28) May 21, 2023
An incarcerated in Russia Brittney has > value than free WNBA Brittany pic.twitter.com/ZZYbQLoWSo
— Just Sayin’©️ (@JustSayin_Yo) May 21, 2023
Oh, a sellout was definitely involved
— Ron Bassilian (@Ron4California) May 21, 2023
It’s the WNBA and nobody cares.
— JWF (@JammieWF) May 21, 2023
— Brian Doherty (@BDOH) May 21, 2023
Maybe people don’t care about the @WNBA
Maybe people aren’t interested in watching a flag-hating American who is now just a little less of a flag-hating American.
— Ashley Muñoz (@RedLady2024) May 21, 2023
Griner, of course, loudly supported the anti-national anthem movement in 2020, but since returning home form a Russian Gulag, she says she suddenly has a new love for the United States and said she will stand for the anthem from now on.
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