Griner makes first WNBA start since Russia ordeal

STORY: The mood was celebratory as Griner, who was released from a Russian penal colony in a high profile prisoner exchange with the U.S. late last year, was embraced by Harris on the court before the game.

Griner looked emotional when she was introduced and despite her Phoenix Mercury being the visiting team, saw the crowd erupt when she hit a 17-foot jumper on her first attempt of the contest.

Griner was taken into custody at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and subsequently convicted of narcotics possession and trafficking after she was found to have been carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. She was subsequently sentenced to nine years in prison.

She said she was prescribed medical cannabis in the United States for a chronic injury and never intended to break the law. U.S. officials said she was wrongly detained and was being used as a political pawn amid increasingly strained relations with Moscow.

The two-time Olympic champion, 32, kicked off her 10th season with the Mercury on Friday after playing in a pre-season game one week ago.