Sport: Mercury’s Skylar Diggins-Smith Discusses Playing After Griner Conviction

Los Angeles Sparks' flight home canceled, forcing half the team to sleep at the airport

  Los Angeles Sparks' flight home canceled, forcing half the team to sleep at the airport The Los Angeles Sparks ended their four-game road trip with a victory against the Mystics. Then, their commercial flight home got canceled.In the video, Ogwumike, a forward with the Sparks, is seen walking with a face mask and talking into the camera to provide an update about the team's travel issues.

  Mercury’s Skylar Diggins-Smith Discusses Playing After Griner Conviction © Provided by Sports Illustrated

The star guard weighed on her teammate’s sentencing Thursday.

View the original article to see embedded media.

Following the news of Brittney Griner’s sentencing in Russia on Thursday, Mercury star Skylar Diggins-Smith discussed the challenge of taking the floor just hours after the verdict.

Griner, 31, received a nine-year sentence in a Russian penal colony and a fine of 1 million rubles (approximately $16,500) stemming from her arrest at a Moscow airport in February for possessing hashish oil in her luggage. Amid a host of efforts spearheaded by the WNBA and a variety of advocates in the 168 days since her arrest, the Mercury held a 42-second moment of silence before Thursday’s matchup vs. the Sun in honor of Griner and her No. 42 jersey.

WNBA's Griner says poor translation clouded arrest in Russia

  WNBA's Griner says poor translation clouded arrest in Russia KHIMKI, Russia (AP) — American basketball star Brittney Griner testified Wednesday at her drug trial in Russia that a language interpreter translated only a fraction of what was said during her questioning and officials instructed her to sign documents without providing an explanation. Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February. She acknowledged in court earlier this month that she had vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage when she arrived in Russia but contends she had no criminal intent and packed the cartridges inadvertently.

After the game, Diggins-Smith, joined at the podium by guard Diamond DeShields, passionately expressed the collective sorrow felt by her and her teammates after fielding questions about Griner’s sentencing.

“It’s heavy; it’s just heavy, y’all,” Diggins-Smith said. “Y’all asking these questions don’t really take away from our trauma, you just add to our trauma so we can break down and cry in front of y’all so you can see how we feel. Like, I don’t know what else to really say about it.”

She continued, “It’s our sister; this is not some random Jane off the street. It’s not anything we’re politicizing. It’s a human being, and this is our real-life friend and real-life sister. So, imagine if your real-life friend or real-life sister is out here.

Kremlin poker-faced on US swap offer to free Griner, Whelan

  Kremlin poker-faced on US swap offer to free Griner, Whelan MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin warned Thursday that a possible prisoner swap with the United States involving American basketball star Brittney Griner needs to be negotiated quietly without fanfare. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that Washington had offered Russia a deal that would bring home Griner and another jailed American, Paul Whelan. A person familiar with the matter said the U.S. government proposed trading convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Whelan and Griner.

“I don’t expect everybody to give a damn, but we really do. And we come out here and we’re still supposed to play this f------ game. Nobody wanted to even play today. How are you supposed to approach the game, approach the court with a clear mind and the whole group is crying before the game?”

As Mercury players and players across the league continue to navigate playing with a heavy heart with Griner still wrongfully detained overseas, Diggins-Smith explained how Phoenix has tried to find ways to rally in the All-Star center’s absence.

“You try to honor her, and you try to come out and still play hard for her. And, you know, regardless if she here or not right now, we still gotta try to keep her spirit alive, to honor her spirit and to try to get some momentum for the team, something to feed off of,” she said.

In the aftermath of Thursday’s sentencing, the Associated Press reported Friday the Kremlin said it’s open to talking about a possible prisoner exchange involving Griner, signaling another significant development in her continued fight to return to the United States.

Inside the Russian Penal Colony Where Brittney Griner Will Serve Her 9-Year Prison Sentence

  Inside the Russian Penal Colony Where Brittney Griner Will Serve Her 9-Year Prison Sentence "I hope that she will be sent to a colony with a lenient governor who allows her to coach basketball in the daytime rather than being a seamstress," Ivan Melnikov, a human rights activist, tells PEOPLEAfter nearly six months in Russian custody, Brittney Griner was sentenced Thursday to nine years in prison and will begin her stay in a Russian penal colony.

The update came a week after AP reported Russian and U.S. officials have conducted negotiations about possible prisoner exchanges, but “there has been no concrete result yet.”

More Brittney Griner Coverage:

  • Mercury Focus on the Big Picture Amid Griner’s Conviction in Russia
  • How Russia Pushed the WNBA to a Crossroads
  • Brittney Griner Sentenced to Nine Years in Russian Prison
  • ‘We Are BG’: Family, Teammates Keep Brittney Griner Top of Mind

Brittney Griner returns to Russian court as US floats proposal to secure her release .
American basketball star Brittney Griner was back in court for her drug possession trial in Russia on Tuesday, as the U.S. floats a proposal to secure her release. Your browser does not support this video Griner, a 31-year-old Houston native who plays professional basketball for the Phoenix Mercury, was returning to Russia for the WNBA's offseason when she was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport in the Moscow suburb of Khimki on Feb. 17, after being accused of having vape cartridges containing hashish oil, which is illegal in the country.

See also