Brittney Griner Returns to the WNBA With Weekend of Celebration

But, even with the celebrity-laden audience, the arena, which was filled with 10,396 fans, seemed to lack the energy expected for Griner’s return, which bothered her coach.

“Honestly, come on now, L.A. We didn’t sell out the arena for B.G.? Like, I expected more, to be honest,” Nygaard said. “It was great. It was loud. But how was it not a sellout?”

The game was scheduled to begin at 11 p.m. Eastern but started about 20 minutes later and was pushed to ESPN2 as an N.H.L. playoff game went to overtime on ESPN. The late — and delayed — start seemed like a missed opportunity for one such a significant moment. W.N.BA. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the decision for Griner’s first game to be on the road and starting so late was made before the league knew she would be back.

In Phoenix on Sunday, the Mercury fans welcomed Griner with a large crowd: 14,040 people. It wasn’t a sellout, but from the beginning the crowd brought an energy that was missing in Los Angeles.

The loudest moment of the night, other than the introductions, came in the third quarter when Griner made a 3-pointer, rare for a center. She waved her hands and yelled to the crowd.

“I’m back,” Griner yelled as she pounded her chest.

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