Brittney Griner still has jokes.
The Phoenix Mercury star poked fun at longtime teammate Diana Taurasi during Griner's first news conference since she returned to the WNBA. The pair have played together for eight seasons since the Mercury drafted Griner No. 1 in 2013, missing only this past season when Griner was detained in Russia.
"Playing with D — who wouldn’t want to play with a walking fossil?" Griner said with a laugh. "Ha, she's gonna kill me. No, I'm just so glad. I was really worried. Legit, I was worried. I thought she was gonna retire on me, or I was going to miss it, and that, honestly, was killing me knowing that was a possibility."
Taurasi, 40, signed a two-year contract extension to return to the Mercury in February amid retirement speculation. It will be her 19th season with Phoenix after the team picked her No. 1 in the 2004 draft.
— WNBA (@WNBA) April 27, 2023
Griner, 32, vowed to return to the WNBA only a week after she was released from Russian detainment in December. Her decision to take a smaller, one-year, $165,000 deal to stay with the Mercury helped the team retain Taurasi.
The two have been close for years and won a WNBA title in 2014, as well as Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 2020. Taurasi even surprised Griner in Texas when she landed after the prisoner exchange halfway across the world.
"So I'm really thankful that she's still here," Griner added. "She's a mentor. I look up to her. How could you not when you have the GOAT right next to you? So I'm really thankful to have her another year here in Phoenix."
The Mercury have the fourth-best odds to win the WNBA Finals this season, at +2500, per BetMGM, and the combination of Griner and Taurasi will likely play a huge role in the team's ability to compete in 2023. Griner averaged 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in 2021, while Taurasi averaged 16.7 points, 3.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds this past season.