By: Nina Cray
With the WNBA season approaching, fans, WNBA staff and players alike have been pondering the future and safe return of seven-time WNBA All-Star and gold medalist Brittney Griner.
The Russian Federal Customs Service has been holding Griner since February 2022 after claiming they found vape cartridges with hash oil – a marijuana concentrate – in her luggage. The current charges against Griner have a hefty penalty – up to 10 years in prison.
Griner, known as “BG” to her friends and teammates, was detained during a time of political tension surrounding events between Russia and Ukraine – a reason many WNBA were leaving the country.
Nobody misses her energy as much as her close friends, teammates and head coach Vanessa Nygaard from the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.
Sophie Cunningham, a guard for the Mercury, says it’s more than just basketball. “We just want her to be well as a human being,” she said.
Griner’s detainment also sparks a conversation about WNBA player salaries – many players go to countries like Russia during the offseason to play and earn nearly four times as much as they would have if they remained in the United States.
Griner’s detainment has recently been extended until May 19th but was visited by a U.S. Embassy Official in March who said Griner was in good condition, considering the circumstances.
Greer, Jordan. 2022, MARCH. “Brittney Griner detainment, explained: Why Russia is holding Phoenix Mercury star in custody and how WNBA has reacted.”
McCarriston, Shanna. 2022, MARCH. “Brittney Griner detained in Russia: Brianna Stewart, Angel McCoughtry break silence on situation.”
Gaydos, Ryan. 2022, APRIL. “Brittney Griner’s detention weighs heavily on teammates as season approaches: ‘We miss her like crazy.’”