Brittney Griner: Celtics ask for WNBA star to return from Russia


Brittney Griner has not been forgotten at the NBA Finals.

The WNBA star has been detained in Russia for more than 100 days – which is wrong, US officials insist – and some members of the Boston Celtics are using their background at the NBA’s title series to add their voices into the chorus of those who demand her. allowed to go home.

Several players wore black T-shirts with “We Are BG” on the front in orange lettering to their practice session at the NBA Finals on Saturday. Game 2 of the series between the Celtics and the Golden State Warriors takes place on Sunday.

“It was tough seeing what she had to go through,” said Celtics all-NBA forward Jayson Tatum. “I know everyone’s seen and felt that, and obviously we’re all together in support of trying to get her back to her family and things like that. Yeah. , wear those shirts today to support her.”

The shirts also have a QR code on the back, which links to an online petition seeking 300,000 signatures supporting the idea of ​​bringing Griner home.

“We felt it was a good idea to use our availability and platform to draw attention to certain issues,” said Jaylen Brown, an official with the Bridge Association. “We felt it was a good idea,” said the National Basketball Association player. “I’ve always supported that. As athletes, we’re not here just to entertain you. We also have a voice. I always appreciate and applaud athletes and athletes. I’m not sure if we’ll wear it the rest of the time, but today is a good day to get some attention. to a necessary subject.”

Griner, who plays for Phoenix Mercury, has been detained since February after a vape box containing cannabis-infused oil was allegedly found in her luggage at a Moscow airport.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist for the United States, faces drug smuggling charges with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

“It’s been more than 100 days since she was illegally detained in Russia,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “I think that’s something we should all be listening to, reaching out to your representatives and others. I’ll just say we’re working with the US government and outside experts. To try to expedite her release by all means possible. Our hearts are certainly with her and her family, and we also eagerly await her safe return. that.”

Russian officials have described Griner’s case as an offense without giving any political association. But Moscow’s war in Ukraine has brought Russian-American relations to their lowest point since the Cold War.

Despite the tensions, Russia and the US carried out a surprise prisoner exchange last month – trading ex-Marine Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal prison sentence for his crimes. plot to smuggle cocaine into the United States.

Although the United States generally does not accept such exchanges, it made the deal in part because Yaroshenko had partially served a long sentence. The Russians might see Griner as someone who could participate in another such exchange.

Celtics defender Grant Williams helped coordinate Saturday’s effort, working with the NBPA and the WNBA’s players’ union to make it a reality.

He said it was important that NBA players show “love and support” for Griner.

“They sent them overnight to get them here for today,” Williams said. “They did an extraordinary job and wanted to credit them for making that process happen. We just wanted to do it as a team. It was one of those things that nobody questioned. Everyone said, ‘Let’s do it. People ordered the Shirts to be worn immediately when we received them, just out of the box. They were flat ironed and comfortable to wear.”

The WNBA has acknowledged Griner’s absence from this season in a number of ways, including social media posts by various players and the league putting up decals with her initials and numbers on all of the teams’ home turf. all 12 teams of that tournament.

“Don’t forget, guys,” said Celtics defender Marcus Smart as he proudly pointed to Griner’s initials on his chest. “Look at this shirt. We’re with BG.”

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