Wings' Johnson returns from suspension over Griner incident
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) The previous time Glory Johnson played in a WNBA game, it was the same day she announced her engagement to Phoenix star Brittney Griner.
In the roughly 22 months since, she's been arrested along with Griner in a domestic incident, gotten married and separated within a month, given birth to twin girls who were so critically premature they were almost too young to live and moved with the franchise from Oklahoma to Texas.
Suffice to say it's pretty difficult for the 25-year-old Johnson to put into words what was going through her mind as a season-opening, seven-game suspension over the domestic case ended with the Dallas Wings' game against Washington on Wednesday night.
''I would just say it's just been really, really tough on myself along with my family,'' Johnson said before scoring 15 points in 27 minutes in the Wings' fourth straight loss, 87-79 to the Mystics.
''They were with me in Phoenix. They were with me in Tulsa. The team moved. They were with me while I was pregnant in Tulsa trying to move, get back home to Knoxville, Tennessee.''
The former Tennessee star was called for a flagrant foul in the first half for an apparent elbow to Washington's Emma Meesseman and got a technical in the second half for what she was told was a flop after she got fouled while shooting.
''It was a lot of drama for a first game,'' Johnson said. ''You've always got to work through adversity and I feel like that's not going to be the end of it.''
Griner served her seven-game suspension last year over the April 2015 incident in suburban Phoenix. Johnson, who last played in a Tulsa loss to Atlanta on Aug. 15, 2014, had to wait until this year because she was sidelined in 2015 while pregnant.
The twins, Ava Simone and Solei Diem, were born in October at 24 weeks, or on the brink of viability outside the womb. That was about four months after Griner and Johnson separated, with Griner going public over her desire for an annulment a day after Johnson announced she was pregnant.
The dispute ended up in court, with a judge ruling before the babies were born that Griner would not have to pay $20,000 per month in spousal support as the former Baylor star pursued an annulment.
Griner averaged 15.1 points and 8.1 rebounds last year in helping the Mercury reach the Western Conference finals, where they were swept by WNBA champion Minnesota in a best-of-3 series.
Johnson, whose previous professional game before her NBA return was in Russia in December 2014, had to watch the final season in Tulsa, although she didn't have much spare time to dwell on it.
''For her and things that she's been through, for her to come out and play and play hard and play hard for the franchise and for the city, she's doing a marvelous job,'' coach Fred Williams said.
''For her to be a new mom, she's very excited about that. We're here to help her, support her through her basketball career and also through life.''
Now that her babies are healthy and growing after being born barely heavier than a pound and a half, Johnson is ready to get into a basketball routine. The two-time WNBA All-Star has family to help with the girls, especially on the occasional long road trips.
''I get to enjoy just playing basketball and enjoying my teammates and all the stuff that I missed the year before, getting in the swing of things,'' Johnson said. ''Everything's kind of new to me, of course. And I haven't been playing for so long. I'm so ready to try to get comfortable playing.''
The suspensions for Griner and Johnson remain the longest in the WNBA's 20-year history - about 20 percent of a 34-game season - and Johnson has learned to live with that distinction.
''I thought it was a bit much,'' she said. ''At the end of the day, it's not my call. I'm just going to take it however they give it to me and know that a situation like that can't happen again and won't happen again. So we won't even have to negotiate about how long I'm sitting out next time because it's not going to happen.''