Brittney Griner's Team Holds Moment of Silence for Her at Game After Sentencing: 'Bring Her Home'

"How are we even supposed to approach the game and approach the court with a clear mind when the whole group is crying before the game?" Griner's teammate Skylar Diggins-Smith said

Photo: Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty

Across the WNBA Thursday night, players, coaches and fans shared a moment of silence in solidarity for Brittney Griner.

The Phoenix Mercury star, 31, was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony earlier in the day, just shy of the 10 years recommended by Russian authorities for smuggling drugs into the country (Griner pled guilty to bringing less than 1 gram of cannabis oil into Russia, but has insisted she did so "inadvertently").

As the U.S. and Russia mull diplomatic talks for a possible prisoner exchange — and Griner's lawyers weigh an appeal — BG's fellow teammates and others across the league took time before their games to join arms for 42 seconds of silence for Griner, who wears the No. 42 jersey.

Before the Mercury faced off against the Connecticut Sun, players from both teams linked arms forming a circle on the court.

"To recognize the gravity of the moment and collectively send her strength," the Connecticut Sun announcer said. "We're inspired everyday by BG's strength and we are steadfastly committed to keeping her top of mind publicly until she is safely back on American soil."

The announcer then invited fans in the stands to also link arms. Towards the end of the 42 seconds, some fans began chanting "Bring her home!"

But before the matchup, Griner's teammates had trouble focusing on the game, The New York Times reported. Players gathered in the locker room, watching footage of Griner's sentencing.

"And we're still supposed to play this game," Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith said after the game, per The Times. "Nobody even wanted to play today. How are we even supposed to approach the game and approach the court with a clear mind when the whole group is crying before the game?"

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The pre-game scene and sentiment was the same in Arlington, Texas, where the Dallas Wings took on the Las Vegas Aces, with fans and players bowing their heads in unity for the star center.

On Thursday, others across the league had similar emotional responses to Griner's sentencing.

Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty

"Thinking of BG and how much light she relentlessly brought to everyone around her," Griner's Phoenix Mercury teammate Brianna Turner wrote on Twitter. "Even after sentencing is complete I hope @POTUS & @WhiteHouse will continue to do everything in their power to bring Brittney Griner & all other Americans detained abroad home."

Meanwhile, WNBA Players' Association wrote on Twitter, "Brittney Griner is a beautiful individual, inside and out. She lives a life in service to others," along with a thread listing Griner's accolades, including her Olympic gold medal, EuroLeague championship, and Russian League championship wins.

"To the entire global sport community and particularly the governing bodies you should be paying attention to this case, making noise and standing with us in support of BG and the safety of all athletes traveling to compete internationally," the WNBPA continued on Twitter.

"It is Day 168," the statement ended, referencing how long Griner has been held in Russia. "It is time that BG comes home swiftly and safely."

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