Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has been one of the NBA stars to use his platform to address social justice issues. He chose not to play a game in 2021 in reaction to the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol. Kyrie also urged players to sit out games in the NBA Bubble after the 2020 murder of George Floyd. He aimed to be a “voice for the voiceless” by refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccination last season.
Now Irving is using his platform to support WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is imprisoned in Russia on drug trafficking charges. On the Nets opening night, the All-Star guard implored United States President Joe Biden to do his job and help bring Brittney Griner home.
“I appreciate us being able to share this floor together, all of us as brothers. But the big picture that’s going in the world is free our sister, Brittney Griner, please,” Irving said on October 19 via TMZ Sports. “POTUS, do your job. Everybody do your job! Please bring our sister home.”
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Steph Curry Shouts Out Griner During Dubs Ring Night
As one of the WNBA’s brightest stars, Griner has garnered the support of many of the NBA’s household names after being sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison. Vape cartridges filled with hashish oil were found in her luggage when traveling to the United States last February, and she has been imprisoned in Russia on drug trafficking charges since.
Griner, who turned 32 on October 18, the NBA’s opening night, got a birthday shoutout from Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, who also implored the United States government to do everything in its power to bring her home.
“We want to continue to use our platform and the opportunity to shout out a very special member of the basketball community Brittney Griner’s birthday is today, she’s 32 years old. We want to continue to let her name be known and we pray,” Curry said during the Warriors ring ceremony on October 18 via Deadline.
“We hope that she comes home soon, that everybody’s doing their part to get her home.”
Griner Loses Appeal in Russian Court
Griner appeared in court on Tuesday, October 25, to appeal the nine-year prison sentence handed down to her on August 4. As many expected, Griner’s appeal was denied, which means her return to America hangs on a prisoner exchange between the United States and Russia.
However, per CNN, she will receive credit for the time served during her pre-trial detainment, which reduces the sentence but still leaves her prison term significant.
“A judge in Russia has left Brittney Griner’s verdict in place, upholding on Tuesday the US basketball star’s conviction on drug smuggling charges and reducing only slightly her nine-year prison sentence,” CNN’s Anna Chernova writes.
“Griner’s sentence will be modified to count the time she spent in pre-trial detention after her February 17 arrest at a Moscow airport, the judge ruled, with each day in pre-trial custody counting as 1.5 days toward her prison sentence. It was not immediately clear by exactly how much that would reduce the sentence.”
It will be interesting to see what the next steps are in the United States’ quest to bring Griner home.