WNBA honors star player Brittney Griner detained in Russia as season begins

Instead of being part of the opening formation, Britney GrinerThe initials and jersey number of will be stenciled on the hardwood by the WNBA’s 12 teams as the league officially kicks off Friday night.

“I wish she was there physically,” Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley said.

The WNBA star and center Phoenix Mercury has been detained in Russia since his arrest at a Moscow airport in mid-February. Russian officials claimed that Griner’s luggage contained vape cartridges containing cannabis-derived oil.

Quigley and Chicago Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot both played with Griner during the WNBA’s offseason in Russia before his arrest.

“We were obviously there when it happened and it could have been any one of us,” Vandersloot said.

Griner’s wife, Cherelle, posted a video of her hugging Griner with the caption “It’s GAME DAY!” while a wave of tributes on social media poured in with the hashtag “We are BG”.

Former UN ambassador Bill Richardson is helping Griner’s family secure his return, CBS News has learned. The State Department reported a more aggressive stance this week in his case.

“We now consider Brittney Griner a case of wrongful detention,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said earlier this week.

Terri Jackson, executive director of the WNBA Players Association, told CBS News she hopes Griner will be home before the end of the season and said many players have written her letters.

Griner’s next court appearance should be May 19.

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