Brittney Griner's Phoenix Mercury Off to Slow 2023 Start

Brittney Griner: "I read the mail that comes to my locker. It’s fan mail, but it’s also a lot of hate mail." (AP photo)

Just nine games into the Phoenix Mercury's 2023 season, Brittney Griner went down with a hip injury. The team lost the next two games without their All-Star center and now has a 2-8 record. That's a quarter of the WNBA season.

The injury happened on June 13 in the first quarter of a game vs. the Seattle Storm, which the Mercury lost. Griner sat out the rest of the game and then didn't participate this past weekend in Washington, DC and New York.

In the eight games she has played, Griner's averaged 20 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. She's on course for her ninth All-Star selection.

However, the Mercury are mired in last place in the Western Conference with the worst record in the league. They've only defeated Minnesota and Indiana.

Griner missed the 2022 season when she was detained in Russian over a cannabis-possession conviction. She'd been playing for a team there during the WNBA off-season for several years. Griner was arrested by Russian authorities at the airport near Moscow in February when several vape cartridges were found in her luggage and released in December in a swap for a Russian arms dealer.

This entire incident has not been forgotten. Griner receives tributes whereever the team goes, but was also harassed on June 10 by an individual in the Dallas-Fort Worth Aiport who shouted "Merchant of Death" at her, referring to Bout, and other rude questions while recording it on YouTube

Since WNBA teams fly coach, a special request has been made for Griner and teammates to use charter flights instead.

At a WNBPA meeting on June 15 with the WNBA players' union executive director Terri Jackson, Griner acknowledged, "We knew this was going to happen. I read the mail that comes to my locker. It's fan mail, but it's also a lot of hate mail."

The Mercury return home for a game against the 10-1 Las Vegas Aces on June 21.


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.