Brittney Griner sat on the bench in warmups for the second straight game, sidelined by a hip injury she suffered earlier this week.
The All-Star center worked out about an hour before the game against New York on the court and looked good doing an array of post moves and jumpers. She told The Associated Press when she walked in the arena that she hoped to play.
Instead she sat on the bench cheering on her teammates, being ruled out about 20 minutes before the game after being listed as questionable on the injury report.
It was Griner’s first game in New York since being detained in Russia for nearly 10 months last year.
Before the game Griner signed autographs and posed for photos with fans, one of whom had a sign that read “NY (hearts) BG”. She also caught up with USA Basketball teammate Breanna Stewart and other Liberty players pregame.
Stewart wore a Griner jersey walking into the arena and the two exchanged a hug and chatted for a while during warmups.
Liberty coach Sandy Brondello, who coached Griner from 2014-21 in Phoenix, had dinner with Griner on Saturday night when the Mercury got to New York.
“She’s a special human being,” said an emotional Brondello. “For me it was just great to hug her and to be like we just saw each other last week. That’s how special she is so it was wonderful.”
The Liberty showed a video package showcasing Griner and the work of the “Bring Our Families Home” campaign during the first timeout. Griner received a loud standing ovation from the crowd and waved to fans and pointed to her heart.
Griner has been receiving warm ovations from the crowd on every road trip this season.
The game against New York closed out a two-game road trip for the Mercury. It was their first since she was harassed by what the WNBA called a “provocateur” at the Dallas airport.
The league has been working with Griner and the Mercury on travel options including charter flights.
Phoenix coach Vanessa Nygaard said before the game that the team had “no issues” with their travel this weekend. The team played in Washington on Friday. When asked about how the team is traveling now she said that she couldn’t comment on changes because of security, but ” I do feel good about where we are now.”
Phoenix was also missing Diana Taurasi for the second straight game with a hamstring injury.
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