Britney Griner Convicted in Russia, Teammates and Fans are Heartbroken
By: Emily Wang
When the Phoenix Mercury, a female basketball team, should have been preparing for their game, they were all in their locker rooms, staring at a TV screen and weeping. Their fellow teammate, Britney Griners, had been convicted in Russia for “smuggling” drugs. Not a single one of them felt the need to get up and play, they all felt too shocked.
In the summers, WNBA players often go to play for other nations as a way to earn more money. This year, Britney Griners went to Russia to play for the UMMA Yekaterinburg. During security check, officers discovered hashish oil in a vape pen and Griner was arrested. During her trial, Griner pleaded that what she had done was an “honest mistake” and she begged for the judge not to “end her life.” After, she was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony, a remote area prisoners are sent to spend their time in, and a $16,000 fine. However, Russia and the United States may be able to arrange to have Griner traded for a Russian prisoner in the United States, since the U.S. has also detained Russians on occasions.
Therefore, Griner may be back soon. The US State department has already ruled her to be “wrongly detained,” and they hope to be able to trade another prisoner to get Griner back.
Fans, team members, and staff have all found a way to show their support. Before the game began, Connecticut Sun Dancers, players, and staff members appeared in “We are BG” shirts, which were designed to look like Griner’s real jersey, a purple and orange shirt showing her name and player number, which is 42.
Sharon White, a huge fan of Britney Griner, was in tears after seeing Griner behind bars. During the game, she wore her special purple T-shirt that had Griner’s name and number on it.
“It just hurts — I love her as a player, and it’s just a sad situation,” White said, wiping tears from her eyes. She added: “She doesn’t need to be there. When she comes home, she doesn’t need to go back. I think none of our players should go over there.”
Jonquel Jones, a Sun player, said she had never expected anything like it to happen. She had been to Russia on occasion, and the players there had treated her with respect. That’s why she loved playing in Russia. Jones noted that any day she was in Russia, that could have happened to her. She usually brought hashish oil to relieve pain in the muscles. She didn’t know it was illegal in Russia until the day Griner was put on trial.
The Mercury lost the game, 77-64, with an 18-0 Sun run in the third and fourth quarters. Yet for some reason, none of the players seemed to care about the score.
“We’ll wake up tomorrow, and B.G. will still be in a Russian jail,” Vanessa Nygaard, the Mercury head coach said. “It’s day 169 or something tomorrow, and the clock continues, and we just want her to come home