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Opinion: The NBA ought to be doing more for Brittney Griner


Imagine for a moment a world by which a famous basketball player is arrested in Russia for something as minor as hashish oil. Imagine the player is someone like Lebron James, Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant. Imagine the outrage, the backlash.

No must imagine. Since February, WNBA star Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia for carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil, a concentrated type of marijuana. Possession of marijuana is prohibited in Russia.

The 6-foot-9 center for the Phoenix Mercury is one among the few – if not the one –  household WNBA names because of Griner’s accolades. In her nine-year skilled profession, the 31-year-old has been a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Yr, becoming the primary in Mercury franchise history to win the award. 

But many, even basketball fans, have hardly heard about what she’s been enduring during the last six months.

Griner’s lawyers said she pled guilty to drug charges in hopes of courts being more lenient, but she now faces as much as 10 years imprisonment in a penal colony simply for having hashish oil on her, in line with The Recent York Times

Her best hope of coming house is now if the Biden administration makes a prisoner swap with a notorious Russian arms dealer generally known as the “Merchant of Death.”

Russia invaded Ukraine only every week after Griner was detained while in Russia to compete for the skilled women’s basketball team UMMC Yekaterinburg. The tense situation has been reflected in her treatment.

Griner described her situation to a Russian courtroom in July, detailing the “exhausting 13-hour flight” after recovering from COVID-19 that resulted in her in an interrogation room with little being translated for her, as reported by Ivan Nechepurenko and Carly Olson

She said she was told to sign papers without a proof of what they said and held for 16 hours with no lawyer, facing repercussions for what she recalled as a mistake made while packing in a rush.

In a letter to President Biden she wrote “I’m terrified I is perhaps here eternally.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said the league and its teams are using their influence and connections to assist Griner out of the general public eye, but in an interview with The Recent York Times political scientist Ian Bremmer questioned that. 

“Could the NBA have done more? Yes, they may have,” he said.

While several players have shown public displays of support for Griner, the NBA itself has kept quiet; the truth is, all 30 NBA teams denied an interview with The Recent York Times regarding Griner, citing the potential that public response could influence Russia to extend their demands.

But imagine again that an NBA star like James or Curry was in the identical situation. It’s hard to imagine that the league would keep quiet about it. 

What’s easier to imagine is that Griner, detained in Russia for six months now for something that multiple basketball players have publicly discussed using, feels abandoned.

“[She’s] a lady and playing in a sport that has, in my estimation, not received the respect that it deserves,” Aronte Bennett, associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion on the Villanova University School of Business, said in an interview with Forbes. “Couple that along with her being queer and Black, and I feel those three things combined make her unlikely to be the form of media darling that we regularly flock to when there’s a call for help.”

The explanation Griner was in Russia to start with reflects the discrepancy in treatment between men and ladies’s basketball teams. The gender pay gap is so severe that The Recent York Times reported women players often play with international teams as an alternative of resting throughout the off-season. 

The Recent York Times reported that the utmost salary for WNBA players in 2022 is simply $228,094, in comparison with the tens of hundreds of thousands paid out to top N.B.A. players.

“If it was LeBron, he’d be home, right?” Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard told the media after a team loss in July. “It’s an announcement concerning the value of ladies. It’s an announcement concerning the value of a Black person. It’s an announcement concerning the value of a gay person. All of those things. We realize it, and in order that’s what hurts a bit more.”

Griner’s family has given permission to boost attention regarding her case after Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife of three years, has said that the initial strategy of staying quiet didn’t work, in line with NPR.

“So I won’t be quiet anymore … My wife is struggling, and we’ve to assist her,” she said.

It’s time for the NBA to stop hiding behind their excuse that motion could make things worse. Griner has already lost half a 12 months to what the Biden administration has declared “wrongful detainment,” and she or he could lose 10 more. 

Something must be done – something greater than just Instagram posts from NBA stars, #FreeBG t-shirts at press conferences and petitions. 

“We have now a lady who represents all the pieces that we’re presupposed to stand for that’s sitting in a jail … She’s been there [for months]. Why do we’ve to sign a petition? Let’s pretend it’s Tom Brady. Would we’ve to sign a petition then?” said Chicago Sky coach James Wade, as reported by the Chicago Sun Times.

The NBA league, players and fans must step up and make the noise obligatory to boost awareness of Griner’s situation and call for her return. Griner is a queer, Black woman, and she or he can also be among the finest basketball players there’s. Silence and patience hasn’t worked. It’s time to fight for her justice.

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