Griner chosen as an WNBA All-Star starter with Wilson and Stewart captains again

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner walks on the court before the team's WNBA basketball game against the Washington Mystics, Friday, June 16, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) (Nick Wass, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

NEW YORK – Brittney Griner will be starting in the WNBA All-Star Game a year after she was an honorary choice by the league while she was being detained in Russia.

The Phoenix Mercury's center was chosen by fans, media and players Sunday for her ninth All-Star game. Last season all the players wore Griner No. 42 jerseys for the second half of the game that was played in Chicago.

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A'ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart were the top voter getters among fans and will be the captains of the two teams when the game is played in Las Vegas on July 15. The two players were also captains last year and are each making their fifth All-Star appearances. Wilson's team won the game last year.

Stewart was thrilled to have the chance to play with Griner again.

“I think all of us are really inspired in what she's doing and the way she's kind of handling herself,” Stewart said of Griner. “So it's another moment to just continue to celebrate her and watch her do her thing on the court.”

As far as drafting Griner, Stewart hopes she gets the opportunity although Wilson has the first pick. Wilson led the fan vote with Stewart second. Stewart was the top choice among players and the media with Wilson second.

“Team Wilson is backkkkk,” Wilson tweeted. “super blessed! thank you all who voted time to turn up the city …AGAIN”

Other frontcourt players chosen to start include rookie Aliyah Boston of the Indiana Fever. She would be the first rookie to start an All-Star game since Shoni Schimmel did it in 2014. Overall eight rookies have been chosen to start the All-Star Game.

Satou Sabally of Dallas and Nneka Ogwumike of Los Angeles round out the frontcourt starters.

“It’s one of the ultimate honors,” said Ogwumike. “Being named a starter or an All-Star at all is always a blessing. I am humbled to be able to play alongside such talented, professional women showcasing their amazing skills and athleticism to the fans.”

The backcourt starters are Las Vegas teammates Chelsea Gray and Jackie Young, Seattle's Jewell Loyd and Dallas' Arike Ogunbowale.

The reserves will be chosen by the league's head coaches, who will choose three guards, five frontcourt players and four at either position. Coaches can't vote for their own players. The reserves will be announced on July 1.

Stewart and Wilson will draft their rosters on July 8.

Fan balloting accounts for 50% of the vote to determine starters for the game. WNBA players and a media panel account for 25% each. Player's scores were calculated by averaging their weighted rank from the three groups.

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