The Phoenix Mercury have released the following statement following the news of Brittney Griner’s detention by Russian authorities.
“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia. We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”
My mind is spinning thinking of all the possible implications of this news. But of course, and as the Mercury have stressed, our first thoughts are for BG and her safety and welfare. We are thinking about her family, friends and teammates as they are dealing with the realities of this scary situation.
This would be a serious incident at any time but in the context of the current global crisis precipitated by Russia’s unprovoked and on-going invasion of Ukraine and the resulting global sanctions there is, unfortunately, potential for Griner to be used by as leverage by the Russians. It’s hard to imagine them not using the situation in some form and while I’m speculating here, the potential advantages for the Kremlin make me wonder if the arrest wasn’t somehow manufactured. There is nothing in recent Russian history including the murder of political opponents to the crackdown on free press that gives them the benefit of the doubt.
We now wait and worry for what comes next.