Skylar Diggins-Smith Says Mercury Are Dedicating 2022 Season to Brittney Griner

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 4, 2022

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 13: Brittney Griner #42 and Skylar Diggins-Smith #4 of the Phoenix Mercury celebrate after defeating the Chicago Sky in Game Two of the 2021 WNBA Finals at Footprint Center on October 13, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Mercury defeated the Sky 91-86 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Phoenix Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith said her team will be focused on more than just basketball this season.

"We didn't forget about her," she said of teammate Brittney Griner, per Josh Weinfuss of ESPN. "We think about her every day. We love her and we're gonna continue to carry her legacy, her voice and play in her honor until she gets back here with us."

The Mercury aren't the only ones who will be honoring Griner, who remains detained in Russia.

WNBA commissioner Kathy Englebert said the league will keep Griner "at the forefront of what we do" during the season with plans to include a decal with her initials and No. 42 on the home courts of all 12 teams.

T.J. Quinn of ESPN reported Tuesday the United States government changed Griner's designation to someone who has been "wrongfully detained" by the Russian government. That means U.S. officials no longer have to wait for her case to unfold in Russia's legal system and will instead actively work to bring her home.

Griner is scheduled for a May 19 hearing after she was arrested in February at a Moscow airport. While she has not been formally charged, Russian prosecutors claim she was illegally in possession of vape cartridges with hashish oil.

"Brittney has been detained for 75 days and our expectation is that the White House do whatever is necessary to bring her home," Griner's agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Quinn also reported that former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson is now working on the case. Richardson has worked as an international hostage negotiator in the past.

Griner has been with the Mercury her entire WNBA career since they selected her with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2013 draft. The seven-time All-Star figured to be a key part of their championship pursuit this season prior to her detainment.

Phoenix begins its season Friday against the Las Vegas Aces.