Penny Taylor Asks for Brittney Griner's Release at Women's Basketball HOF Induction

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJune 12, 2022

Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury gets advice on the bench from team mate Penny Taylor during the Connecticut Sun V Phoenix Mercury, WNBA regular season game at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA. 29th June 2013. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Penny Taylor called for the release of her former Phoenix Mercury teammate, Brittney Griner, during her Women's Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech Saturday.

"BG is our family," she said, urging President Joe Biden's administration to get Griner back to the United States. "She's yours too. The entire global sport community needs to come together to insist that she be a priority."

Griner, 31, has been detained in Russia for the past 114 days after Russian officials said they found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport. She is facing up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

There are concerns that Griner won't get a fair trial in Russia or won't get a trial at all, period, and that she is being held as a political pawn by President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.

The United States government has classified Griner as being "wrongfully detained."

In May, Russian state media reported that Putin was seeking to free arms trafficker Viktor "Merchant of Death" Bout in a prisoner exchange with the United States for Griner. Bout is currently serving a 25-year sentence in the United States after being convicted of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens, delivery of anti-aircraft missiles and providing aid to a terrorist organization.

A number of athletes have spoken up on behalf of Griner, including LeBron James:

LeBron James @KingJames

We need to come together and help do whatever we possibly can to bring BG home quickly and safely!! 🙏🏾 Our voice as athletes is stronger together. <a href="https://twitter.com/uninterrupted?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@uninterrupted</a> 👑 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WeAreBG?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WeAreBG</a> <a href="https://t.co/2GWV3Ff81p">pic.twitter.com/2GWV3Ff81p</a>

Boston Celtics @celtics

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FreeBrittneyGriner?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FreeBrittneyGriner</a> 👉 <a href="https://t.co/NilQSP8giS">https://t.co/NilQSP8giS</a> <a href="https://t.co/6tw5S3dwAL">pic.twitter.com/6tw5S3dwAL</a>


BRING BG HOME<br>BRING BG HOME<br>BRING BG HOME<br>BRING BG HOME<br>BRING BG HOME<br>BRING BG HOME<br>BRING BG HOME<br>BRING BG HOME<br>BRING BG HOME<br>BRING BG HOME<br>BRING BG HOME<br>BRING BG HOME<br>NOW. <a href="https://twitter.com/POTUS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@POTUS</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/VP?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@VP</a> <a href="https://t.co/Ewtjzam4BW">https://t.co/Ewtjzam4BW</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WeAreBG?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WeAreBG</a> <a href="https://t.co/8uby0tslir">pic.twitter.com/8uby0tslir</a>

Breanna Stewart @breannastewart

It has been 114 days since our friend, Brittney Griner, has been wrongfully detained in Russia. It is time for her to come home. <a href="https://twitter.com/WhiteHouse?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WhiteHouse</a>, we are paying attention and we are counting on you. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WeAreBG?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WeAreBG</a>

Many WNBA players will play overseas during the WNBA offseason as another way to make money. Griner was one of many players overseas in Europe and has played for Russia's UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2014.

Taylor and Griner were teammates on the Mercury between the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons.

Alongside Taylor, longtime announcer Debbie Antonelli; players Alice "Cookie" Barron, Becky Hammon and DeLisha Milton-Jones; and coaches Doug Bruno, Paul Sanderford and Bob Schneider were inducted into the Hall.