WNBA superstar Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia since February for allegedly carrying vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil through airport security.
TASS, a Russian state-owned news outlet, reported in March that Griner would be released on May 19th.
As the date comes near, Brittney Griner has put her faith in Russia’s judicial system to quietly return home. It was rumored that Brittney wouldn’t not be able to even get a trial date 12 to 18 months after the incident. As Russia is currently at war with Ukraine, people concerned with Griner’s safety are right to feel worried. The last update of Griner’s status came in April, from a U.S. State Department official stating that her return is a “top priority” following the release of ex-Marine Trevor Reed in a prisoner swap with Russia.
In solidarity with Griner, the WNBA has elected to honor her for the upcoming 2022-23 season. All 12 WNBA teams will place a decal of Brittney Griner’s silhouette or number on their courts. The gesture to publicly honor her is different from the strategy the WNBA has been using since Griner’s arrest. It was reported Kurt Streeter of The New York Times that the WNBA, fans and players have been advised to stay silent on the matter considering the political ramifications that persist between the U.S. and Russia. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told the press that the narrative that WNBA players have to go overseas to play basketball is “outdated and inaccurate”.
Most players go overseas to play for a higher wage and theory hasn’t completely dispelled. Brittney Griner’s current max salary in the WNBA is $$221,515 a year, she is the 8th highest paid player in the league. In 2017 Griner’s salary, for her play with Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball club, was around $1 million. Most WNBA players are earning quadruple the amount they get paid in the states. The WNBA has progressed from previous years in paying their athletes a livable and comparable wage, but its clear that for most that pay is not enough.
Brittney Griner’s situation is still ongoing, and we could only hope that she gets back home safe.
Time will only tell what WNBA will do to continue to address the situation that portrays the underlying problems that the league is trying to change.
For more news, head to classixphilly.com.
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