It’s been 108 days since Brittney Griner was wrongfully detained in Russia. With the eyes of the basketball world on the NBA Finals, Eastern Conference Champions the Boston Celtics are showing their support for the seven-time WNBA All-Star.
Per ESPN, the team wore t-shirts with the message “We Are BG” on them. The saying has become a rallying cry for Griner’s supporters, with her team the Phoenix Mercury using it as its social media hashtag this season.
“It’s extremely tough seeing what she’s going through,” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said. “I know everybody sees and feels that, and obviously we’re all together in support trying to bring her back to her family and things like that. Yeah, wearing those shirts today in support of her.”
On Feb. 17, Griner was stopped by police in a Moscow airport after they claimed they found vape cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage. The case has been complicated by the strained relationship between the countries since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
After initially staying silent to ensure Brittney’s safety, the U.S. government officially classifying the two-time Olympic gold medalist as wrongfully detained paved the way for WNBA and NBA players to show their love for Griner.
“We felt like it was a good idea to use our availability and our platforms to bring attention to certain matters,” Celtics guard Jaylen Brown said in a press conference. “I always stand for that. Being an athlete, we’re not just up here just to entertain you guys. We also have a voice. I always appreciate and applaud athletes, entertainers, my teammates who plan to do something with that. I’m not sure if we’ll wear it for the rest of the time, but today was a good day to bring attention to a topic that was necessary.”
As great as it is to see the Celtics use the heightened attention of the NBA Finals to support the Phoenix Mercury center, there’s one voice that counts more than all the others when it comes to basketball…and that’s LeBron James.
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar tweeted, “We need to come together and help do whatever we possibly can to bring BG home quickly and safely!! Our voice as athletes is stronger together. @uninterrupted #WeAreBG”
“As a decorated Olympian and member of an elite global sport community, BG’s detention must be resolved out of respect for the sanctity of all sport and for all Americans traveling internationally,” James wrote. “It is imperative that the U.S. Government immediately address this human rights issue and do whatever is necessary to return Brittney home.”
“Join us in demanding that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris bring Brittney home swiftly and safely by taking action today,” he added.
One small piece of good news is that the WNBA champion has been able to get emails and letters from fellow players while detained, per The Associated Press. Griner’s agent set up an email account from which messages “are printed out and delivered sporadically in bunches to Griner by her lawyer after they are vetted by Russian officials.” If she has paper she writes a response that her lawyers photograph, or sometimes she just dictates it to them.
For her friends and teammates, it’s about letting Griner know they still have her back. “We just don’t want her to think she’s forgotten,” New York Liberty center Stefanie Dolson said.
To learn more about Brittney Griner’s case, sign the petition or just to show support go to wearebg.org.