Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi, who also has played in Russia, said Monday afternoon that the sensitive nature of Griner’s situation — being played out on a diplomatic stage rather than a basketball court — has made things even more difficult. “I spent 10 years there, so I know the way things work,” Taurasi said. “It’s delicate.”
While the practice facility for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury was filled with laughter and the echoes of bouncing basketballs during the team’s preseason workout, there was no denying the presence and spirit of 6-foot-9 center Brittney Griner was missing.
“I definitely wake up in the middle of the night sometimes, worrying about BG,” first-year Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said.
“BG” is one of the nicknames for Griner, who remains in Russia after being detained following her arrival at a Moscow airport in mid-February. Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges that allegedly contained oil derived from cannabis, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
“We’ve just got to keep praying for her,” Mercury teammate Sophie Cunningham said. “We hope she’s well. That’s all we know, you guys know as much as we do. No one wants to be in her situation. We miss her like crazy.”
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