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#pounditFriday, March 31, 2023

Brittney Griner’s coach sounds off on Russian detainment

Brittney Griner smiles

Mar 12, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner in attendance of the Phoenix Suns game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Mercury and WNBA star Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia since February, and Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard has apparently had enough.

Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star, plays in Russia during the WNBA offseason for UMMC Ekaterinburg. She has been detained in the country after being arrested on drug charges. Griner had a letter sent to President Joe Biden Monday via her representatives that expressed her fears over not being able to return to the United States.

While speaking to reporters Monday, Nygaard suggsted that if Griner were one of the NBA’s biggest stars, she’d have gotten to return to the United States by now.

“If it was LeBron, he’d be home, right?” Nygaard said. “It’s a statement about the value of women. It’s a statement about the value of a black person. It’s a statement about the value of a gay person. All of those. We know it.”

Nygaard was talking about NBA star LeBron James, who is also black, which runs countrary to part of Nygaard’s argument.

Griner has received support from various NBA players, including Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul and multiple Boston Celtics players. Ahead of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, some Boston players wore T-shirts with the message “We are BG.” The shirts also had a QR code linking to a petition calling for Griner’s return home.


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