Britney Griner Honored by Fellow Football Players at the WNBA All-Star Game

CHICAGO – Britney GrinerFellow WNBA players honored her during the All-Star Game in Chicago on Sunday by wearing T-shirts bearing her name and number during the second half.

Griner, who has played for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013, was detained in Russia on charges of drug possession since February. Sunday with Griner’s wife, Sherel Grinercourtside, the All-Stars lined up after the break in Game 1. 42 Griner T-shirts on the back.

Several players hugged Sherel Griner, who during an ESPN broadcast said she was grateful to them for not forgetting her wife.

Aya Wilson, a Las Vegas Aces forward who was one of the team’s captains, said wearing the jerseys was “a statement in itself.”

“We are not going to stop until everyone understands how serious this is,” she said.

Griner, a seven-time All-Star who won a championship with the Mercury in 2014 and won two Olympic gold medals, was also named an honorary starter for that game by the league.

Griner was in Russia to play for the UMMC-Yekaterinburg pro team when she was accused of having hash oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. Last week, she pleaded guilty to drug charges, but she was not formally convicted. She faces up to 10 years in a strict regime colony.

The US State Department stated that Griner was “illegally detained“And that it will work to secure her release.

On Sunday, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said at a press conference that the Griner situation has influenced players’ decisions regarding international games. Several players who usually compete in Russia, signed with teams from other countries for the upcoming offseason.

“We’re not going to say you can’t play overseas,” Engelbert said.

WNBA players are free to play overseas, but may be fined for being late to training camp or the start of the season – a common occurrence due to international schedules. Starting next year, players may be suspended from league competition if they do not return by the start of the WNBA season.

The league and teams also offer incentives to encourage players to stay in the United States, such as marketing deals and bonuses. Engelbert said the league planned to spend $1.5 million on player marketing deals this cycle, several hundred thousand dollars more than the previous cycle.