Ever since that horrific day in February when we found out that Brittney Griner was detained by Russian authorities at a Moscow airport as she attempted to return to the United States, many of us feared that what was an initial detainment would become her being held as a prisoner of war.
Unfortunately, that has become the case. As of this writing, it is mid-June and while there have been efforts and periodic updates on the status of her situation, it is evident that what current tries have been made to free Griner has not worked.
Recently, the Phoenix Mercury has been briefed on the situation by Washington, D.C. officials. There has even been an effort by fans to vote for Griner as a participant in next month’s WNBA All-Star Game in Chicago – where she would likely be if it were not for this unfortunate ordeal unfolding in Russia.
Each day that she continues to be held hostage in a situation she obviously did not ask for is a day that she could be around those who love her the most – including her family and friends. At this point, Griner’s saga has gone for so long that it is no longer about her basketball career, but simply her status as a living and breathing human being.
Ever since it was initially revealed via a New York Times report that she was arrested in Russia, her detention has been extended (unfairly) twice – most recently until early July because of an “investigation.” It is clear to anyone who thinks rationally that this has nothing to do with any investigation. Griner is being used as a pawn by the Kremlin to get the United States to agree to something…anything…extremely favorable to Moscow in exchange for her release.
This whole situation has been particularly taxing on her Mercury team. While the BG42 logo has been displayed at all 12 WNBA courts, all teams have donated to her shoe charity and there will likely be a large acknowledgement of Griner and her sad saga at the upcoming All-Star weekend in Chicago, the Mercury opened the 2022 season with a record of 2-8. This included a much-ballyhooed bench disagreement between Phoenix’s two other primary stars in Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith.
The Mercury have played inspiring basketball over the last few weeks and currently are 6-9 on the season. If the playoffs were to begin today under the WNBA’s new postseason format, Phoenix would occupy that final playoff berth.
There is little to no question that if Griner were available for the team this season that the Mercury would once again be near or at the top of the WNBA’s standings. After all, they did reach the WNBA Finals and have been consistent contenders these past few seasons even with questions mounting about when Taurasi will retire.
The 2022 season has been a grueling one for not only the Mercury but for the entire WNBA with the ever-evolving Griner situation on the brains. A rally was even held outside of the Toyota Center in Houston that included its mayor Sylvester Turner. Many a politician in Washington has also tweeted about the Griner saga – a sign that she is a high priority topic on Capitol Hill – as she should be.
She also needs to be a topic of concern at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. While we know President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are dealing with plenty of issues – inflation, Russia’s war on Ukraine that is having a domino effect on gas prices, the midterm elections, reproductive rights and a number of other hot-button items, the Griner saga needs to be on the minds of the president and vice president every second of every day.
NEW: Trevor Reed, the US Marine imprisoned in Russia for 2 years until Biden negotiated his release, just replied to Jim Jordan baselessly saying Trump “would have” secured Brittney Griner’s release— “Yeah big thanks to President Trump for getting myself out of Russia. Not.”
— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@NoLieWithBTC) June 15, 2022
Imagine if this were a male athlete such as a LeBron James, a Patrick Mahomes or an Aaron Judge. There is reason to believe this would have already resulted in a release. The Griner saga, especially given her being a Black LGBTQIA+ athlete in a country that is anything but friendly to the LGBTQIA+ and Black communities needs to be treated with the same urgency. Biden and Harris – we are counting on you and your White House to secure Griner’s safe release.
Tamryn Spruill’s petition on Change has received over 260,000 signatures and she is now working with Change and the WNBPA on these efforts. Any day longer that she is trapped in Russia is a day too long. She is a human at the end of the day and deserves to be back around her loved ones to take all the time she needs to mentally recover from this.
Bring. BG. Home.