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WNBA All-Stars Wear Brittney Griner’s No. 42 on Jersey in Second Half

The WNBA’s stars took to the court in Chicago on Sunday afternoon to showcase the game’s top talent in the annual All-Star Game. However, this year’s contest took on a different meaning as the league’s best players used the platform of a nationally televised game to shed light on Brittney Griner’s ongoing detention in Russia.

After honoring the Mercury center as a honorary starter earlier on Sunday afternoon, every All-Star came out of the locker room for the second half with another touching salute to Griner. Each player donned a No. 42 jersey, Griner’s number, with the eight-time All-Star’s name printed on the back.

Sunday wasn’t the first time that the WNBA has tried to keep Griner at the forefront of the game this season. The league put a decal on each of its courts this season with Griner’s initials, as well as her No. 42, and commissioner Cathy Engelbert has said on a few occasions that the league office is working with the U.S. government to try and find a solution that would get Griner back on American soil.

The WNBPA has also taken action in a number of ways to try and place further attention on the Mercury center’s situation, which has included circulating a petition that has over 305,000 public signatures as of July 7 and tweeting daily about Griner’s status. Players around both the WNBA and NBA have worn T-shirts and sweatshirts to raise awareness for the 31-year-old and the Mercury, Griner’s team, recently held a rally in support of their teammate, 140 days into her detainment.

Griner was taken into custody on Feb. 17 at Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow, where Russian officials said they discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. According to the Russian Federal Customs Service statement, a criminal case involving Griner was “opened into the large-scale transportation of drugs,” which can carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years in Russia.

The U.S. government classified Griner’s arrest as a “wrongful detainment,” but her detention was extended on a number of occasions, the latest of which will keep her in custody until Dec. 20, according to The Associated Press. Her trial began last Friday and she pleaded guilty to bringing hashish oil into Russia, saying that she had no intention of breaking the law, according to ESPN’s T.J. Quinn.

Quinn reported that entering a guilty plea was part of a strategy aimed at making it easier for the U.S. and Russia to execute a successful prisoner swap. Griner is due in court next on July 14 but there has been no indication about when exactly her trial will end.

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