Hours after the Russian Justice declared guilty Brittney Griner for drug trafficking, her teammates from the Phoenix Mercury and the Connecticut Sun players remained 42 seconds in silence before the start of the match, as a symbol of solidarity with the American basketball star.
“Bring her home!”was the effusive request made by the players of both clubs with tears in their eyes and in front of an audience that was just as moved as they were.
Also, the time span in seconds (42) was an homage to the number used by Gringer in Phoenix, where he is the star figure of the franchise. Regarding this, minutes before the meeting, her coach Vanessa Nygaard mentioned the emotional blow that said news meant both for her directing and for herself.
“We’re going to go out there and play this game, but how can we focus? It’s a very emotional day for us,” Nygaard said. Also, the coach pointed out against the Russian Justice for the unfair conviction of her player: “We knew this was coming, we were prepared for it. We did not pin our hopes on the Russian justice system“.
Later, in a joint statement, the commissioner of the WNBA, Cathy Engelbert, and the commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver, expressed their point of view on the subject: “The verdict and sentence are unjustified and unfortunatebut not unexpected, and Brittney Griner remains wrongfully detained.”
The athlete was arrested in February 2022. (Photo: AFP)
“The WNBA and NBA’s commitment to his safe return has not wavered. and we hope that we are near the end of this process of finally bringing BG (Griner) home to the United States,” Engelbert and Silver concluded.
How was the Griner case?
It all started in February of this year, when the 31-year-old Texan athlete was arrested at Sheremetyevo airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in your luggage.
Because of this, Brittney should have stayed in jail and admitted her guiltalthough he clarified that he had no intention of bringing a prohibited substance to Russian lands or harming anyone.
The Texan was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison. (Photo: EFE)
“I made an honest mistake and I hope his sentence doesn’t end my life here.. My parents taught me two important things: one, take responsibility and two, work hard for everything you have. That is why I pleaded guilty to my charges,” the Phoenix Mercury star stated at her trial.
However, Nikolai Vlasenko, the prosecutor in the case, turned a deaf ear to the athlete’s words and sentenced her to nine and a half years in prison plus a fine of one million rubles ($16,600).
What consequences would the conviction of Brittney Griner bring?
Such a verdict could lead to a great prisoner exchange between Washington and Moscowwhere the basketball player and to Russian Viktor Boutone of the largest arms dealers in the world.
Since 2013, Bout has been serving a 25-year sentence. (Photo: EFE)
Since the political situation between the United States and Russia is really tense, the presidents of both countries urgently seek to rescue their imprisoned compatriots in enemy lands. Therefore, both would reach the mentioned agreement.