The month-long trial against American basketball star Brittney Griner has come to an end. Griner was convicted of deliberately smuggling drugs into Russia and sentenced to nine years in prison on Thursday.
The case became international news after the Phoenix Mercury center was arrested Feb. 17 on her way to play for Russian club UMMC Ekaterinburg for bringing cannabis into the country and went on to be detained in Russia for nearly six months on drug-related charges.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert and NBA commissioner Adam Silver, in a joint statement, said that Thursday's verdict and sentencing is “unjustified and unfortunate.”
“The WNBA and NBA's commitment to her safe return has not wavered and it is our hope that we are near the end of this process of finally bringing BG home to the United States,” they added.
The basketball community has been very vocal throughout this case on and off the court. During this year's WNBA All-Star game, each player came out for the second half of the game wearing a Griner jersey. Engelbert even named her an honorary starter. Now that the verdict has been released, social media has begun voicing their hurt for what looks to be a heavy sentencing.
Boston Celtics power forward Grant Williams called to “bring our sister and friend home.”
Isaiah Thomas asked for “God to be with her…”
Denver Nuggets guard Nah'Shon Lee "Bones" Hyland tweeted “9 years is crazyyyyyy.”
Monte Morris from the Washington Wizards also voiced his disappointment, even calling it a “tragic day.”
Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo added his support in freeing Griner.
Griner's Mercury teammates also took their social accounts to also express their feelings on the verdict:
Mercury guard Skylar Diggins added a tweet that pretty much encapsulated her feelings.
Other WNBA stars also added their support on social for Griner:
NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving took to his twitter page to ask President Joe Biden for an update.
Prior to the verdict, Griner apologized to the court and asked for leniency in an emotional speech.
“I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner said. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn't end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom.”
The team also released a statement following the verdict.
“We are inspired every day by BG's strength and we are steadfastly committed to keeping her top-of-mind publicly until she is safely back on American soil. We will not allow her to be forgotten. We are BG.”