Brittney Griner detained in Russia as Mercury opens season


The Phoenix Mercury opened the season at home Friday night against the Las Vegas Aces. One player who wasn’t there stood out in everyone’s mind: Brittney Griner.

As Mercury and the rest of the WNBA move into season, Griner nears the mark of three months in custody in Russia, with no timetable for her release.

MJ Hill, a Mercury season ticket holder since the WNBA’s first season in 1997, said: “It’s horrible what has happened to her, which we fans and we all must know here. ,’ said it was horrible to think where she was and what she was going to do. “

Griner was arrested on February 17 after authorities at Moscow airport said they found vape boxes believed to contain cannabis-derived oil in her luggage, which could result in a fine. maximum 10 years in prison. The Biden administration determined Griner was being unlawfully detained and she will have a hearing on May 19.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t do this in some way, talking to many people in the US government, her representatives, her family, others who are experts in this field, The people who can help us navigate are complex and quite frankly, as I said in our draft, the situation is unimaginable,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in Seattle.

The WNBA is recognizing Griner with a floor decal that reads “BG” and her number 42 in all 12 arenas across the league as she continues to be incarcerated.

Washington placed his decal on the blue margin between the benches at the Mystics arena in the nation’s capital, next to the “Black Lives Matter” decal. Several Indiana Fever substitutes will be sitting on the ground near “BG42” while waiting for halftime so they can get into the game.

Washington coach Mike Thibault said: “We’re all worried about this situation, which would normally be handled a lot quicker. “(It) definitely didn’t happen and I think everyone sees what is happening. She is in everyone’s thoughts. “

The Mercury players wore black T-shirts with “We Are BG” written in white during demos and filming. Defending Sophie Cunningham speaks to the crowd before the game against Las Vegas.

“We still hope she gets back to us soon, but until then we’ll kick ass and win the games,” she said.

The 6-foot-9 center back, Griner and WNBA career goalscorer Diana Taurasi were key players to the Mercury brand that won the 2014 WNBA title and reached the finals last season, losing to Chicago Sky.

Griner is a six-time All-Star, consecutively winning the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award for the years 2014-15 and the all-time top scorer in WNBA history. A two-time gold medalist, she had one of the best seasons of her nine-year WNBA career in 2021, leading the WNBA in shots blocked while second in terms of shots. score and sixth on bounces.

Griner is once again expected to play a key role for Mercury this season after the team bolstered its roster with the additions of Tina Charles and Diamond DeShields.

“BG comes to my mind every day,” says Breanna Stewart, the Seattle Storm forward. “You have moments where you can’t believe she’s still in Russia being illegally detained. Hope we bring her home. WNBA is not WNBA without BG. ”

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