As NBA Season Kicks Off, Players Call For Griner’s Release (VIDEO)

NBA players are using their spotlight to draw attention to Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner, who is being jailed in Russia.

Basketball is back and as the NBA season openers kicked off this week, veteran players took the spotlight to highlight Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner.

“The big picture that’s going on in the world is: please free our sister Brittney Griner. Please. POTUS, do your job. Everyone does their job. Please take our sister home,” said Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving.

His message comes as tens of thousands of fans poured into arenas across the country and many more tuned in to watch the first games of the season.

“I want her to know from my Miami Heat family and the NBA family that we are still thinking of you and everything you’re going through. You are in our hearts and in our thoughts,” said Heat player Udonis Haslem.

During the Golden State Warriors’ championship ring ceremony on Tuesday, 2022, MVP Steph Curry led the calls for her release:

“We want to continue to get her name known and pray that … it has been 243 days since she was unjustly imprisoned in Russia. We hope she comes home soon and everyone does their part to bring her home,” Curry said.

The men’s basketball season began the same week as Griner’s 32nd birthday. Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams wished Griner a happy birthday.

“I just hope that our fans, Mercury fans and our community will continue to pray for her,” Williams said.

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Griner has been in custody in Russia for eight months and is serving a nine-year sentence on drug possession and smuggling charges. She is reportedly being held in a penal colony outside Moscow, where she is only allowed outside for one hour a day.

The Biden administration offered to trade convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and security officer Paul Whelan, but negotiations appear to have stalled.

“The U.S. government continues to call on Russia to release wrongfully detained U.S. citizens Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan,” Deputy State Department Spokesman Vedant Patel said. “As the minister said, there was a substantial proposal on the table earlier in the summer to facilitate their release. Our governments have communicated repeatedly and directly about this proposal, and the Russians should embrace this deal.”

US negotiations with Russia on prisoner swap for Griner

The Phoenix Mercury shared a message from Griner on Twitter, which read, “Thanks to everyone who fought so hard to get me home. All the support and love is definitely helping me. – BG.”

The calls to action propelled Griner back into the spotlight, which some fans thought would fade.

“I’m hearing less and less about it. You know, I think the only reason that came out recently is that her birthday is over,” said Dominic Mertz, from Phoenix.

In Phoenix, fans expressed their concerns about Griner’s treatment and health behind bars.

Richard Dumas, a former Phoenix Suns player, says he has an idea of ​​what Griner is going through. He says he was arrested in Israel and jailed for possession of hashish.

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“The conditions I was in were terrible,” he said. “They had lower legs everywhere, diseases. And people were just — it was just a dirty situation.”

Dumas says the Suns brought him back after just a day in foreign prison.

ADI GUAJARDO OF NEWSY: Do you think if she was a male player she would be back yet? Like you, a day later?

RICHARD DUMAS: In fact, in the current situation, I doubt it would really happen because I think Putin would also keep a male player just to have a pawn in this chess game.

Griner will be in front of a Russian court again on Tuesday to appeal her verdict.

“She’s been gone for eight months – a very, very long time. I don’t think the US is doing enough to bring them back,” said Javier Millan of Phoenix.

“We all want to see her again. She brings out the fans. She is Phoenix. She’s our Devin Booker,” said Cedric Warren, who lives in Phoenix.

“We love you, Brittney, and we want you to come home,” said Natalie Parker of Phoenix.

Griner’s friends and family launch a messaging campaign to keep their plight in the spotlight.

Bill Richardson, a former governor of New Mexico, visited Russia.

In a recent interview with CNN, Richardson said he is working with both families and the White House to coordinate the release of Griner and Whelan, adding that they could be released by the end of the year.

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