Ahead of Game 3 of the Warriors–Celtics NBA Finals on Wednesday night, league commissioner Adam Silver appeared on NBA Countdown to discuss the ongoing Brittney Griner situation.
It has been 111 days since the Mercury star was arrested in Russia after customs agents claim they discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage at Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow.
Before Game 1 of the Finals, Silver announced that the NBA would be working with the U.S. government to try to “expedite” her case to bring her home as soon as possible. Silver explained Wednesday how the NBA got involved with Griner’s case.
“Well, actually, what spurred us, you used the words ‘wrongfully detained,’ and so that is an official designation used by the U.S. government,” Silver said. “Initially, when she was detained, even though we all knew what was going on, we were told by the U.S. government to keep it a little bit more as a low-profile issue I think because they were hoping that Russia frankly wouldn’t see her as such a high-value asset, in which they would be looking to get something in return for her.”
As of May 3, the U.S government has classified Griner’s arrest as a “wrongful detainment.” The State Department has also called getting Griner back on U.S. soil a “top priority,” though Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, is hoping to see additional measures taken to bring her home.
Silver added that this official classification is what allowed the NBA to get more involved in the situation.
“Clearly now everyone understands how important she is, how well known she is in this country, how important she is in the WNBA,” Silver said. “At this point, I think for all of us, we have to bring as much attention to her case as possible, and get her home safely as quickly as possible.”
The WNBA has an ongoing petition titled “We Are BG” on May 28 as a way to help bring Griner home.
A few weeks ago, Griner’s pretrial detention was extended by 30 days, keeping her in Russia. Authorities denied consular access to Griner from U.S. Embassy officials three times this month, according to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
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