American Brittney Griner said she “definitely” felt the love from the fans as she made her competitive return to action for the Phoenix Mercury.
Griner, 32, spent 10 months in Russian custody for possessing cannabis oil before being released in a high-profile prisoner exchange in December.
Griner won the tip-off and, despite being on the away team, was cheered when she hit a 17-foot jumper as she helped her side to an early 7-0 lead.
Griner scored 18 points and registered six rebounds but the Phoenix Mercury were beaten 94-71 by the Los Angeles Sparks in their season opener.
Two-time Olympic champion Griner is one of the world’s best and most high-profile female basketballers.