WNBA Star Brittney Griner is a Russian Prisoner Amid War


Sydney Cole

Leading up to the May 6 tip-off of the next WNBA season, one of their biggest stars, Brittney Griner, won’t be there to play. Back in February, just one week before Russia invaded Ukraine, Griner was detained at a Russian airport. According to the Russian government, Griner was sporting vape cartridges and cannabis oil in her luggage.

“The big thing is that we have to go over there,” said Breanna Stewart, player for the Seattle Storm. “WNBA players need to be valued in their own country and they won’t have to play overseas.”

Like most people in the WNBA, Griner heads overseas during the off-season to make more money. While U.S. players are resting, Griner plays for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia, as did WNBA player Diana Taurasi until her leaving in 2017.

As of 2020, the average WNBA player can make an annual salary of $130,000 compared to the $1.5 million that Taurasi made in 2015, which is double the average U.S. men’s salary.

“It’s tough. BG is us. We are BG. That could’ve been us. We’re really most concerned about her health and safety, especially her mental health. We’re hearing, in that respect, she’s OK, but we want her home,” said Nneka Ogwumike on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America.’

Despite the current political climate, two months after her arrest, little is known about her conditions. Everybody, including the state department, have mostly kept quiet about her arrest, even with how dangerous it is for her in Russia right now.

Griner has been in Russia for months, and there’s been little-to-no news coverage, response, or action that has been done. The Biden Administration’s Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, has refused time and time again to make comments on the situation further than saying that the President is “ready to provide every possible assistance.

It wouldn’t be right to start the WNBA season without Brittney Griner, and it certainly isn’t right to leave her in Russia, while most people don’t even know she’s in danger.