Brittney Griner, the Phoenix Mercury and WNBA star, announced to The Arizona Republic in 2020 that she disagreed with the national anthem being played before to WNBA games and that she would not be on the court if it were. Griner was targeted from conservatives for her comments about not playing the national anthem before WNBA games; some even connected her to those who were imprisoned during the January 6 Capitol riot in 2021. Players from the Phoenix Mercury, including Griner, and the Los Angeles Sparks left the court prior to the playing of the national anthem in July 2020, during the height of the racial justice protests following the police shootings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Griner is currently making headlines for all the wrong reasons after being sentenced to 9 years in prison by a Russian court despite negotiations between state leaders from the two nations. Customs officials at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport claimed to have discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in the WNBA star’s luggage in February, leading to her detention. Early in August, she was convicted guilty of drug smuggling and given a nine-year prison term in Russia. It’s safe to say that her position has polarized views throughout the world. While some believe the US government ought to return her, others believe she would need to serve her sentence in Russia.
All about Brittney Griner and her imprisonment in Russia
Brittney Griner, a centre who is 6 feet 9 inches tall, has been a member of the Phoenix Mercury since 2013 after being selected in the first round by the team out of Baylor University. The 31-year-old was selected in 2021 as one of the top 25 players in league history and is widely considered as one the best defensive players in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She earned a national collegiate championship and the Player of the Year Award in 2012, and since beginning her professional career in 2013 with the US women’s national basketball team, she has won two Olympic gold medals as well as a WNBA Championship.
Brittney Griner has been held by Russian government since February 17, when they arrested her at Sheremetyevo International Airport on suspicion that she was in possession of marijuana oil-containing vape cartridges, which are prohibited in that country. To increase her income and to stay consistent with her talents, Griner, like many other female basketball players, plays abroad during the WNBA summer. At the time of her arrest, Griner was playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League. Griner claimed she had no idea how the cannabis oil got into her bag, but added that she had a doctor’s prescription for it and had packed quickly.
Griner’s comments on the national anthem
Brittney Griner’s sociopolitical attitude is mostly to blame for the contempt she endures as she was a controversial character even before her conviction. The National Anthem was playing when the Phoenix Mercury and Los Angeles Sparks left the floor during their match. It’s interesting to note that Griner said she would continue to leave the court before the games. She said: “I don’t mean that in any disrespect to our country. My dad was in Vietnam and a law officer for 30 years. I wanted to be a cop before basketball. I do have pride for my country,”
Brittney Griner’s remarks were made in the midst of nationwide events against the Breonna Taylor tragedy and the Black Lives Matter movement. Those who were offended by Griner’s comments regarding the national anthem at the time and those who were following the WNBA star’s sentencing last week did not forget about them. Following the Russian judge’s nine-year prison sentence for the Mercury star, many people, including some hardline critics, made fun of her anthem protest.