Phoenix Mercury Head Coach Baffled By Attendance At Brittney Griner’s First Game Back In The WNBA: “How Was It Not A Sellout?”

Brittney Griner WNBA
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You really can’t figure that one out, eh?

In case you missed it, the WNBA kicked off their regular season this weekend. And it also marked the return of Brittney Griner to the court in a regular-season game after 579 days.

The WNBA star was arrested in Russia last year on drug charges and sentenced to 9 years in Russian prison. She ultimately spent nearly a year incarcerated before being released in a prisoner swap orchestrated by the Biden administration.

The move drew scrutiny for resulting in the release of a Russian arms dealer who had been imprisoned in the United States, and also for not including the release of Paul Whelan, a United States Marine currently imprisoned in Russia after being convicted of espionage and sentenced to 16 years in prison back in 2018.

But ultimately, Griner was able to return home, and this weekend she made her long-anticipated return to the WNBA.

On Friday, Griner and the Phoenix Mercury traveled to California to take on the Los Angeles Sparks to kick off the regular season, marking Griner’s first regular season game since the ordeal in Russia.

Vice President Kamala Harris was on hand to celebrate Griner’s return to the court, along with a host of other celebrities, and a crowd of 10,396 fans.

The crowd was nearly double what the Los Angeles Sparks generally draw for a game, with an average attendance last season of around 5,600.

Despite the relatively sizeable crowd, Griner’s coach was still baffled by the fact that Arena wasn’t sold out for the WNBA star’s return.

In her postgame press conference, Phoenix Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard expressed her disappointment at the crowd size:

“I mean, it was great. But like honestly, come on now LA. We didn’t sell out the arena for BG?

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?”

Now, the attendance was already higher than every WNBA team averaged last year (except for the Seattle Storm, which averaged 300 more people than were in attendance for Griner’s return). So it’s not like the WNBA is drawing in huge crowds anyway. Arena holds nearly 19,000 people for basketball games. And with the controversy surrounding the prisoner swap that brought Griner home (and not to mention that it was in Los Angeles, where there’s quite a bit going on anyway), it’s not really surprising that it wasn’t exactly a packed house.

Well, it wasn’t surprising to most people. But apparently it was to Griner’s coach.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock