The 2022 WNBA season begins Friday and seven-time All-Star Brittney Griner is still in Russian government custody. On Tuesday morning, the league announced that Griner will continue to be on the minds of teams and fans as the campaign gets under way and for as long as he remains in custody.
The 31-year-old is playing for a Russian team during the WNBA offseason. Griner was arrested in February at a Moscow-area airport as she entered the country after Russian prosecutors said she illegally brought vaping cartridges containing hash oil.
The former No. 1 draft pick has not been formally charged, but she is due to have a hearing on May 19.
In other Griner news Tuesday morning, according to a report by ESPN writer TJ Quinn, the US government now considers the Phoenix Mercury facility to be wrongfully owned by the Russian government, “signaling a significant shift in how officials will try to get it home”.
“Officials and other sources familiar with Griner’s case declined to say what led to the change or if there were any discussions about what it would take to secure his release,” Quinn wrote. “But the official designation change means that the U.S. government will no longer wait for Griner’s case to play out in the Russian court system and will seek to negotiate his return. It also means that Griner’s other WNBA players and supporters in the Congress will be notified. They have the family’s blessing to give as much attention to his case as they wish.”