Following Brittney Griner’s sentencing in Russia to 9 years in jail on Thursday, WNBA gamers, coaches and followers locked arms and tried to ship the American basketball star energy throughout a second of silence.
Earlier than the Connecticut Solar beat the Phoenix Mercury 77-64, gamers from each groups met at midcourt and silently bowed their heads for 42 seconds — a nod to Griner’s jersey quantity with the Mercury.
“No person needed to even play at present,” mentioned Phoenix guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, who scored 16 factors to guide the Mercury.
“How are you speculated to strategy the sport and court docket with a transparent thoughts? The entire group is crying earlier than the sport. You attempt to honour her and nonetheless play exhausting for her. No matter whether or not she’s right here or not. Proper now, we nonetheless bought to attempt to hold her spirit alive. Honour her spirit.”
The Mercury watched the decision collectively within the morning proper earlier than the crew had its pregame shootaround. “I imply, it’s such as you’re ready for a bomb to drop watching it, seeing her behind bars,” Mercury guard Diamond DeShields mentioned.
Diggins added that it was “a helpless feeling. It’s heavy.”
“Clearly, it’s devastating,” DeShields mentioned. “You may’t say something aside from that. I do know personally, I’m actually proud to be a part of this group and the best way they confirmed up and got here out and performed. We approached the sport tonight with a heavy coronary heart, as we now have each recreation this season.”
Solar coach Curt Miller wore a “WE ARE BG” t-shirt.
Griner, a two-time U.S. Olympic champion and a eight-time WNBA all-star, was convicted of drug possession and smuggling by Choose Anna Sotnikova.
She was sentenced for practically a decade in a politically charged case that would result in a high-stakes prisoner alternate between Washington and Moscow.
Griner confirmed little emotion to the sentence, however her attorneys mentioned later she was “very upset, very confused.”
U.S. President Joe Biden denounced as “unacceptable” the decision and sentence, which got here amid hovering tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine. Griner had advised the court docket she had no intention to interrupt the legislation by bringing vape cartridges with hashish oil when she flew to Moscow to play basketball within the metropolis of Yekaterinburg throughout the WNBA offseason.
Whereas her short-handed WNBA crew performed with out her on the street, Jonquel Jones had 14 factors and 10 rebounds and Brionna Jones added 13 factors and 9 rebounds for the Solar.
Phoenix (13-19) was additionally with out Diana Taurasi, who didn’t play attributable to a leg damage, for the primary time this season.
Courtney Williams scored 11 factors and Alyssa Thomas had 9 factors, 13 rebounds and 6 assists for Connecticut (22-10). The Solar additionally beat Phoenix 87-63 on Tuesday.