SAN FRANCISCO — While the eyes of the basketball world are on the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics want at least some of that focus to shift to the case of Brittney Griner.
The Team USA and Phoenix Mercury star has been detained in Russia for more than 100 days — wrongfully detained, according to the United States government.
To bring attention to her situation, many Celtics showed up to practice on Saturday wearing “We are BG” T-shirts.
“She’s been over there for an extended amount of time, and we feel enough is enough.”
Jaylen Brown on Russia holding Brittney Griner for months. pic.twitter.com/8Va9zPFwf4
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) June 4, 2022
“The shirts were super important not only showing our support for our sister that is detained over in Russia, Brittney Griner, we just wanted to show that togetherness and love that we have throughout not only the NBA but the WNBA,” said Grant Williams, the Celtics’ player rep who organized the T-shift effort working with the WNBAPA and NBAPA. “She’s been a vital part of the WNBA over years past, college, and in the amount of impact she’s had on young female athletes, USA and overseas.
“We hope to have her back in the U.S. and reunited with her family and do what she loves and bring that love and tenacity she always plays with on the court.”
The shirts have a QR code on the back that links to an online petition to bring Griner home to the United States.
“It’s extremely tough seeing what she’s going through,” Jayson Tatum said. “I know everybody sees and feels that, and obviously we’re all together in support trying to bring her back to her family and things like that. Yeah, wearing those shirts today in support of her.”
“We felt like it was a good idea to use our availability and our platforms to bring attention to certain matters,” Jaylen Brown said. “I always stand for that. Being an athlete, we’re not just up here just to entertain you guys. We also have a voice. I always appreciate and applaud athletes, entertainers, my teammates who plan to do something with that. I’m not sure if we’ll wear it for the rest of the time, but today was a good day to bring attention to a topic that was necessary.”
Since February, Griner has been detained in Russia on drug smuggling charges after small vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were allegedly found in her luggage as she went through an airport in Moscow (she plays in Russia in the offseason, as do a number of WNBA stars). She potentially could face up to 10 years in a Russian j
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed Griner’s detention before Game 1 of the Finals.
“It’s been now over 100 days since she’s been illegally held in Russia,” Silver said. “I think it’s something that all of us should be heard on, contacting your representatives and others.
“I will only say we are working in lockstep with the U.S. government and outside experts on trying to expedite her release in any way we can. Certainly, our hearts go out to her and her family, and we are just as eager for her safe return.”