Simply hours after being sentenced to 9 years in jail on the opposite aspect of the world, the Phoenix Mercury and the Connecticut Solar got here collectively to pay a touching, emotional tribute to Brittany Griner forward of their recreation on Thursday evening.
Each Mercury and Solar shook arms collectively for 42 seconds at Halfcourt on the Mohegan Solar Enviornment in Connecticut, honking Griner’s jersey quantity, whereas followers in attendance started to chant, “Carry him residence.”
“It is nothing we’re politicizing,” Phoenix guard Skylar Diggins-Smith stated by way of ESPN after his loss to the Solar. “It is a human being and our real-life buddy and real-life sister. I do not count on everybody to present a rattling. However we actually do.”
“And we’re outta right here and we nonetheless wish to play this f***ing recreation. No one even needed to play right now. How are you supposed to take a look at the sport with a transparent thoughts, and the entire group is crying? Sports activities? Since you attempt to respect him and also you attempt to come out and nonetheless work laborious for him.”
Griner was sentenced on Thursday to almost a decade in a Russian jail after being discovered responsible of drug trafficking and drug trafficking with prison intent. The Phoenix Mercury star has been in custody within the nation since February, when authorities stated his baggage at Moscow airport contained wipe cartridges with cannabis oil.
The US authorities declared Griner a wrongfully detained citizen, and President Joe Biden referred to as his sentence “unacceptable”.
“I name on Russia to launch him instantly in order that he might be along with his spouse, family members, associates and teammates,” Biden stated, “working tirelessly and pursuing each path doable to convey him residence.” ” stated earlier than making the promise.
The US has provided Russia a “substantial provide” to launch Griner and Paul Whelan, who’re additionally wrongly believed to be in custody. The specifics of that deal will not be recognized.
“None of our robust days are as robust as BG’s, proper?” Phoenix coach Vanessa Nygaard stated earlier than the sport by way of ESPN. “So we at all times maintain that in thoughts, and we stock it with us day by day for the season. However right now is actually, actually robust.
“We had gamers within the locker room watching the decision as we put together to do our shootaround. After which simply go on the market to do basketball… Basketball would not really feel prefer it right now. It is simply not over- Seems vital. After all we’re prepared. The gamers are very skilled, they did what they did and we ready for the sport.
“However going again right now, listening to her phrases, listening to her apologies for the way she’s handled in Russia… it is simply heartbreaking.”