Brittney Griner, incarcerated in Russia, is the MVP of WNBA’s All-Star Weekend

Both All-Star teams played the second half with Brittney Griner's number 42 outfit in solidarity.

Both All-Star teams played in the second half despite Brittney Griner number 42 in solidarity.
image: beautiful pictures

CHICAGO – Some things can’t be missed.

With four circles placed on the field, for the first time in WNBA All-Star Game history, a 4-pointer is a real thing. And for most of the first quarter, it seemed like every player on the field let one fly. And so they did. Over and over and over and over. And as each member of the starting lineup takes turns lifting photos from the logos placed a few feet away from the field, you can’t help but ponder one question:

Did Brittney Griner try it?

On Saturday, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson announced that he plans to travel to Russia in the coming weeks in hopes of finding a deal to bring her home, as she has been detained in Russia since mid-February. As much as we can on that upcoming trip, the WNBA and their players have done all they can to ensure that this weekend they take 42nd place.

“We are thinking about Brittney Griner at the moment and she remains a top priority for us. She continues to have our full support and we are fully focused on getting her home safely and as soon as possible,” federation commissioner Cathy Engelbert said during a press conference. pregnant.

Shooting combat has her name and number on the back. She was named an honorary initiator. And as you look around Wintrust Arena, it’s impossible not to see, hear or feel something that reminds you of the elephant in the room – that one of the WNBA’s greatest players is in a foreign prison in the a weekend where the tournament takes place. Celebrate it best and brightest.

Despite the fun that went on throughout the weekend, there was a cloud hanging over the center of the women’s basketball world, in contrast to how sunny summer days are outside. After halftime, both teams took to the field to take pictures as they both wore Griner jerseys for the second half of the game.

Becky Hammond said before the game: “When one of your people is clearly being wrongfully detained, falsely accused, and so on, it’s all in the spotlight. Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, sat a few seats away from Hammond as she made her All-Star Game debut as head coach.

“It’s a family,” Hammond said. “Not only the WNBA and their players, but also the NBA, bringing the national light to it can only help create some pressure on the Russian government to do the right thing and let her out. Go.

“It’s time for her to come back.”

Last week, the Phoenix Mercury head coach, Vanessa Nygaard, put it bluntly what a lot of people were thinking.

“If it was LeBron, he’d be at home, wouldn’t he?” she asked. “It is a statement of the value of women. It was a statement of worth as a Negro. It’s a statement about the worth of a gay person. All those things. We know that, and so it’s something that hurts a little more.”

Like me written in the pastBlack people are in trouble. Black women have a harder time. Black gay women have the hardest time. It’s tough being a three-man minority in America, but especially in Russia.

Despite “how far we have come,” it is impossible to discuss Griner’s situation without realizing that who she is plays a huge role in this. And on a weekend when the identities of women in the WNBA are celebrated and elevated, Griner’s absence is a reminder that equality has yet to become the norm.

Sunday is also a reminder of how far the WNBA has come, as it continues to get better as the game evolves. Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles were named two of the best ever to do so, playing in their last All-Star game of the previous season. The highlight of the game is Fowles ‘dunk in transition in the second quarter. Las Vegas’ Kelsey Plum walked away with the MVP trophy, setting the record for most points in a single WNBA All-Star game, compared with Maya Moore’s 30 from 2015 when Team Wilson, the team with Plum, beat Team Stewart 134-112. Plum was voted a starter in her first All-Star game, as she was one of nine former No. 1 players overall featured in the game.

But in the end, the whole weekend is about who doesn’t get a chance to go public. And while we hope and pray that Brittney Griner gets home sooner, this past weekend the basketball world made sure she got her flowers.

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