The Suns continue to push their support of Brittney Griner’s return to the U.S. with the release of coach Monty Williams’ video on social media Thursday to raise awareness about her imprisonment in Russia.
The WNBA All-Star and Phoenix Mercury center has been detained since February 17 after she was allegedly found with vape cartridges filled with cannabis oil in her carry-on luggage as she passed through Sheremetyevo International Airport’s security checkpoint.
The drug charges carry a potential 10-year sentence.
The U.S. government reclassified Griner as “wrongfully detained” by the Russian government on May 3, and the State Department says it has been working to bring her home.
“We are on Day 126 since Brittney Griner has been wrongfully detained. I’ll say that again: 126 days,” Williams said. “Me, my family, our staff, we pray for Brittney a lot, and we have to keep her at the forefront.
“Not the topic, but Brittney to press those in power with influence so that we can bring Brittney home. It is time for BG to come home.”
This is the second public statement Williams has made about Griner’s detainment.
His first was on May 17 at the close of a Zoom conference call with the media after he answered questions about the Suns’ Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals and their season overall.
“We think about Brittney Griner a ton,” Williams said to reporters. “I want our fans to know that even though I haven’t spoken about it a lot, we as a staff pray for her and her family a ton.”
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This is also the second time this month that a Suns player has spoken on record about wanting Griner to return home to Phoenix and reunite with her wife Cherrelle Griner and family.
Suns center JaVale McGee appeared on ESPN’s First Take on June 14 and discussed how the NBA initially instructed its players, coaches, and team personnel to tread lightly about Griner’s detainment. The league’s instructions were in lieu of the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Biden administration’s stance against it.
“When we got the OK, or at least the head nod to speak on it, everybody was adamant, but internally, everybody was talking about it,” McGee said. “It’s a crazy situation. Somebody in the WNBA is one of our own. To be locked up in a foreign country for something that’s legal in America, which is even crazier.”
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Griner’s pretrial detention was extended to at least July 2, according to Russian media service TASS, which was handed down the same day as McGee’s statement.
Griner has not spoken with her wife since the day she was arrested. Her scheduled phone call that was slated for June 18 on their four-year anniversary, which was supposed to be dispatched by the U.S. Embassy in Russia, did not happen as expected. That raised eyebrows about the Biden administration’s handling of her case, which it called an “unfortunate mistake.”
The White House and State Department said the call has since been rescheduled without a disclosed date.
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