MINNEAPOLIS — Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said Thursday that her team's players and coaching staff "have been glued to seeing Brittney [Griner] in the trial" that ended with the Phoenix Mercury star being found guilty of drug possession and sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian judge.
"[The players] are all affected by it," Reeve said. "They're having a hard time with it."
Reacting to the verdict, Reeve said: "You think about our country, our rules and Russia has a different standard. I think to be charged with criminal intent, that's the absurd part. Again, it's Russia, their legal system is different from ours. That's what you're seeing.''
Lynx players were returning to the Twin Cities on Thursday after a three-game road trip that ended in Seattle. One of the stops was in Phoenix, where they defeated Griner's team, which has struggled this season without her in the lineup.
In a joint statement, WNBA commissioner Cathy Englebert and NBA commissioner Adam Silver called the verdict "unjustified and unfortunate, but not unexpected and Brittney Griner remains wrongly detained. 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."
Breanna Stewart, the WNBA All-Star with the Seattle Storm who faced the Lynx on Wednesday night, told the New York Times, "Now that the trial is done and the sentencing happened, I know she's got to be in a very emotional state and just want her to know that we're still continuing to do whatever we can to get her home."
The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network, released a statement saying that Griner's sentence was a matter of political maneuvering, not justice.
"The sentencing of Brittney Griner to nine years in prison is a moral outrage and a legal atrocity in any court in the world," he wrote. "In most places, including the United States, what she pled guilty to and was charged with, would not even have merited a misdemeanor. It is shameful and a dark day when global athletics is subjected to politics and not due process."
That sentiment was echoed by U.S. Rep. Colin Allred from Griner's home state of Texas. Allred was one of the first vocal critics of Griner's arrest.
"Folks must remember that this conviction is all part of a sham trial and Brittney was wrongfully detained," Allred wrote on Twitter. "It is just another cynical way for Russia to try and gain leverage. The U.S. remains committed to getting Brittney Griner home to her family."
President Biden said the verdict is "one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney."
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