CHICAGO — Brittney Griner’s fellow W.N.B.A. players honored her during the league’s All-Star Game in Chicago on Sunday, wearing jerseys bearing her name and number for the second half.
Griner, who was a player for the Phoenix Mercury from 2013 to 2013, has been Detained in Russia for drug charges since February. On Sunday, with Griner’s wife, Cherelle GrinerThe All-Stars sat courtside and wore matching No. 42 jerseys with “Griner” on the back.
Cherelle Griner was hugged by several players, and she said that during the ESPN broadcast, she was thankful they hadn’t forgotten about her.
A’ja Wilson, a Las Vegas Aces forward who was one of the team captains, said wearing the jerseys was “a statement in itself.”
“We are not going to stop until everyone understands how serious this really is,” she said.
Griner, a seven-time All-Star who won the Mercury’s 2014 championship and holds two Olympic gold medals, was named honorary starter by the league.
Griner was in Russia to play for UMMC Yekaterinburg (a professional soccer team), when she was arrested after being accused of carrying hashish oil in her luggage in an airport near Moscow. Last week She pleaded guiltyShe was not formally convicted of the drug charges. She could spend up to 10 years in prison.
The U.S. State Department has said that Griner was “Incorrectly Detained” and that it would work to secure her release.
W.N.B.A. commissioner, Cathy Engelbert, said at a news conference that Griner’s situation had affected players’ decisions about international play. Many Russian players have been suspended. Signed with other teamsThe off-season is coming.
“We’re not going to say you can’t go play overseas,” Engelbert said.
W.N.B.A. players are free to play overseas, but can be fined for showing up late to training camp or the start of the season — a common occurrence because of the international schedule. Players can be banned from league competition starting next year if they do not return for the W.N.B.A. season.
The league and its teams offer players incentives, such as bonuses and marketing deals, to encourage them to stay in America. Engelbert indicated that the league plans to spend $1.5million on player marketing deals for this cycle. This is an increase of several hundred,000 dollars over last cycle.