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Brittney Griner: I will only play overseas again at the Olympics

Brittney Griner

US basketball player Brittney Griner, of the Phoenix Mercury, speaks during a news conference at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona on April 27, 2023. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Brittney Griner said she will not play club basketball overseas again, but would leave the U.S. to play at the Olympics.

Griner held her first press conference on Thursday since returning to the U.S. in December after spending nearly 10 months detained in Russia, where she previously played for a team during WNBA offseasons.

“I’m never going overseas to play again unless I’m representing my country at the Olympics,” she said. “If I make that team, that’d be the only time I would leave the U.S. soil, and that’s just to represent the USA.”

Griner, 32, starred on the last two U.S. Olympic teams that went undefeated to gold medals.

In her last national team activity in the Tokyo Olympic final, she scored 30 points, the second-highest total in an Olympic game in U.S. women’s history, as the Americans beat Japan 90-75.

Griner said Thursday that basketball is still a sanctuary for her as she prepares for the start of the WNBA season next month with the Phoenix Mercury.

“I always believe in my ability,” she said. “If we have a game tomorrow, we’re going to go get that W. Being realistic, am I exactly where I want to be? No, but I’m on the right track to getting there.”

Griner was arrested in Russia in February 2022 -- while traveling to rejoin her Russian club team -- on drug-related charges and later convicted and sentenced to nine years in a Russian jail.

The State Department said that Griner was wrongfully detained until she was brought home in December on a prisoner swap.

Without Griner and other veteran stars, the U.S. won the world championship last year and qualified for the 2024 Paris Games, where it will go for an eighth consecutive Olympic title.

The 12-woman team for Paris is expected to be chosen next spring.

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