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NBA team wear shirts in support of detained female basketballer

Boston Celtics players wore t-shirts in support of imprisoned WNBA star Brittney Griner during a practice session on Saturday, which came ahead of Game 2 in the NBA finals against the Golden State Warriors.

Griner has been in Russian detention for well over 100 days after cartridges containing hashish oil were allegedly found in her luggage at an airport in Moscow in mid-February.

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While her wife Cherelle appeals to the administration of US president Joe Biden to grant her release, the Celtics showed solidarity with Griner by wearing shirts with “WE ARE BG” emblazoned across them while preparing for the game in Oakland on Sunday night.

Speaking to media at a press conference, Boston power forward Grant Williams said that the shirts were “super important” to show support for their “sister” who is detained “over in Russia”.

“We just wanted to show that togetherness and love that we have throughout not only the NBA but the WNBA,” Williams added, before describing Griner as a “vital part” of the WNBA and US college basketball who has had a huge impact on young female athletes at home and overseas.

“We hope to have her back in the U.S. and reunited with her family and do what she loves and bring that love and tenacity she always plays with on the court,” Williams said, revealing how as vice president of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), the shirts were a collaboration between his body and its female counterpart the WNBPA.

Williams explained how the shirts were sent overnight to the west coast and thanked everyone involved in the process of their creation and delivery for doing a phenomenal job. 

“We just wanted to do that as a team,” Williams insisted. “It was one of those things where no one questioned it. Everyone said, ‘Let’s do it.’ Everyone put the shirt on immediately when we got them, fresh off the box. They were ironed and good to go. So we wanted to show that love and support.”

Jaylen Brown stressed how the Celtics, who lead the NBA finals 1-0, wanted to come out and show their support for Griner as a collective.

“Enough is enough,” Brown insisted.

As for Jayson Tatum, he got to know Griner when they were both representing Team USA at last year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo and had enjoyed being in her company for extended periods of time as the pandemic prevented athletes from being able to move around. 

“So after the games, after practice, we would be in the hospitality room, men and women,” Tatum said. 

“We would be in there, playing cards, karaoke, things like that, video games. Great person to be around. She just lightens the entire room with her personality.”

READ MORE: Calls intensify for basketball star’s release from Russian prison

Due to the bond he formed with her then, Tatum has therefore found it “extremely tough” to see what Griner is going through.

“I know everybody sees and feels that, and obviously we’re all together in support trying to bring her back to her family and things like that,” he concluded.

As Griner faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, figures such as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver have said that the league is working to “expedite” her release from Russian custody while working in “lockstep” with the US government.

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