Dream join many to welcome release of Brittney Griner

The Atlanta Dream welcomed the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday.

Russia freed Griner in a dramatic prisoner exchange, as the U.S. released notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

A statement from the Dream to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution read: “We are all relieved to hear that after 294 days of wrongful detainment, Brittney Griner is finally coming home. Our hearts are with our sister and her family as she begins her healing journey.

“Welcome home, BG.”

Griner was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February when customs officials said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage. She pleaded guilty in July. She acknowledged in court that she possessed the canisters, but said she had no criminal intent and said their presence in her luggage was due to hasty packing. She was given a nine-year prison sentence Aug. 4 and was recently moved to a prison camp.

ExploreWNBA star Griner freed in swap for Russian arms dealer

Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, is one of 11 women to win an Olympic gold medal, an NCAA championship, a FIBA World Cup gold medal and a WNBA championship. She is an eight-time WNBA All-Star, a two-time WNBA scoring champion, a three-time All-WNBA first-team player, a three-time All-WNBA second-team player, a two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, a member of the WNBA All-Rookie team in 2013 and a member of the WNBA 25th anniversary team in 2021.

Griner played for Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg in the WNBA offseason and was a three-time Russian League champion.

The WNBA and the NBA also released statements on the release of Griner.

From WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert: “There has not been a day over the past 10 months where we all haven’t had Brittney Griner on our minds and in our hearts and that has now turned into a collective wave of joy and relief knowing that she will soon be reunited with her family, the WNBA player community, and her friends. BG has shown extraordinary courage and dignity in the face of enormous adversity. The WNBA is grateful beyond measure to the Biden Administration, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, and all those who played a role in bringing BG home today. Our hope is that Paul Whelan and every wrongfully detained American will be returned home safely and as soon as possible.”

From NBA Commissioner Adam Silver: “Brittney has had to endure an unimaginable situation and we’re thrilled that she is on her way home to her family and friends. We thank the members of the NBA and WNBA community who never wavered in their efforts to raise awareness of Brittney’s unjust circumstances.”