/  08.05.2022

Following the announcement of Brittney Griner’s nine-year Russian prison sentence, people across the nation had a lot to say. Yesterday (Aug. 4), Griner’s Phoenix Mercury teammates Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diamond DeShields spoke at a press conference and shared their support and disbelief.

In a video posted by “The 3 Point Conversion,” DeShields opens up about her teammate. “We approached the game [tonight] with a heavy heart, as we have every game this season. Devastating is the overall sense of it,” DeShields said. Diggins-Smith joins by telling the reporters that their questions about Griner’s situation “just add to our trauma.” She says, “We could break down and cry in front of ya’ll so ya’ll can see how we feel.”

“I don’t know what else to say about it. That’s our sister. This is not some random Jane off the street,” Diggins-Smith explains. “This is not anything we’re politicizing. This is a human being and this is our real-life friend and real-life sister,” Griner’s teammate adds. While becoming emotional, she says, “And I don’t expect anybody to give a damn, but we really do. And we come out here and we’re still supposed to play these f**king games. Nobody wanted to even play today. How are you supposed to approach the game and approach the court with a clear mind and the whole group is crying before the game?”

Diggins-Smith continued speaking highly of Griner, saying, “You try to honor her. And you try to come out and still play hard for her.” Next, the Phoenix Mercury player spoke about trying “to keep her spirit alive.” Yesterday, ​​Judge Anna Sotnikova sentenced Griner to nine years in a Russian prison. The judge ruled that the time Griner has already spent behind bars since her February arrest would count as time served, according to ESPN.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert and NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a joint statement calling Griner’s sentence “unjustified and unfortunate.” The statement added, “The WNBA and NBA’s commitment to her safe return has not wavered and it is our hope that we are near the end of this process of finally bringing BG home to the United States.” Griner has been detained since Feb. 17, when Russian authorities discovered vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

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