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Brittney Griner named a starter for the WNBA All-Star Game

Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury was announced Sunday as a starter for the WNBA’s upcoming All-Star Game.

Griner’s nine career All-Star Game selections are more than any other starting all-star this year, according to the Mercury.

The All-Star Game will be played in Las Vegas on July 15.

Griner – a two-time Olympic gold medalist – has averaged over 19 points and more than six rebounds a game in 2023 after missing all of last season as she spent nearly 300 days in Russian custody.

The center was released in December last year as part of a prisoner exchange.

The All-Star announcement comes the same day that the Mercury fired head coach Vanessa Nygaard.

Despite Griner’s successful return to play this season, the Mercury hold the WNBA’s worst record with two wins and 10 losses.

Assistant coach Nikki Blue will take over as interim head coach of the team for the remainder of the season, the team said.

Griner – who for years had played during the WNBA off-season for a Russian women’s basketball team – was detained in February 2022 and sentenced to nine years in prison under drug-smuggling charges after Russian authorities found cannabis oil in her luggage.

Since her return last year, she has told reporters that she would never go overseas to play basketball again, unless she made the US team.

Griner won her Olympic gold medals at the 2016 and 2020 Games. The 2024 Olympics are in Paris next July and August.

This post appeared first on cnn.com

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