Defeaning silence in honor of Griner
Teams, players and coaches join together to support star
UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Following Brittney Griner’s sentencing in Russia to nine years in prison Thursday, WNBA players, coaches and fans locked arms and tried to send the American basketball star strength during a moment of silence.
Before the Sun beat the Mercury 77-64, players from both teams met at midcourt and silently bowed their heads for 42 seconds — a nod to Griner’s jersey number with the Mercury.
Sun coach Curt Miller wore a “WE ARE BG” t-shirt.
“Thinking of BG and how much light she relentlessly brought to everyone around her. Even after sentencing is complete I hope (at)POTUS & (at)WhiteHouse will continue to do everything in their power to bring Brittney Griner & all other Americans detained abroad home,” Mercury teammate Brianna Turner tweeted.
Players from the Wings and Aces also locked arms before their game on Thursday to honor Griner.
Griner, a two-time U.S. Olympic champion and a eight-time WNBA all-star, was convicted of drug possession and smuggling by Judge Anna Sotnikova.
She was sentenced for nearly a decade in a politically charged case that could lead to a high-stakes prisoner exchange between Washington and Moscow.
“While we knew it was never the legal process that was going to bring our friend home, today’s verdict is a sobering milestone in the 168-day nightmare being endured by our sister, BG.” the Mercury said in a statement. “We remain heartbroken for her, as we have every day for nearly six months. We remain grateful to and confident in the public servants working every day to return her to her family and us. We remain faithful the Administration will do what it takes to end her wrongful detention. We are inspired every day by BG’s strength and we are steadfastly committed to keeping her top-of-mind publicly until she is safely back on American soil.
“We will not allow her to be forgotten. We are BG.”
Griner showed little emotion to the sentence, but her lawyers said later she was “very upset, very stressed.”
“It was very hard to watch, watched a little bit,” Odyssey Sims, who played with Griner at Baylor and now is with the Sun said. “Couldn’t stand to see her behind the bars. It was a little much for me. I don’t even know what to say about the sentence. Unheard of. Unbelievable. I feel like it’s just unreal.
“I hope that President Biden and everyone in the white house can do whatever they need to get her out.”
U.S. President Joe Biden denounced as “unacceptable” the verdict and sentence, which came amid soaring tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine. Griner had told the court she had no intention to break the law by bringing vape cartridges with cannabis oil when she flew to Moscow to play basketball in the city of Yekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason.
“It was extremely heavy. We’ve been carrying this with us all year,” Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said. “To see her in that situation and hear her words was really, really tough.
“A lot of our players are not in a great space right now.”