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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday he is working “side by side” with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert to bring home Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February 17 because of accusations that she attempted to take vape cartridges with cannabis oil through airport security.
Silver made his remarks to ESPN’s Malika Andrews in a brief televised interview before the NBA draft lottery aired:
“We’ve been in touch with the White House, the State Department, hostage negotiators, at every level of government and also through the private sector as well,” Silver said (h/t ESPN News Services). “Our No. 1 priority is her health and safety and making sure that she gets out of Russia.”
Griner has also played with UMMC Ekaterinburg of the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League since 2014 and was attempting to return home.
The State Department said May 3 that Griner is being wrongfully detained and that the “U.S. government will continue to undertake efforts to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner.”
Russian state news agency TASS (h/t Jason Hanna and Anna Chernova of CNN) reported Friday that Griner’s pretrial detention had been extended by a month. She now can be held until June 18, per TASS’s relaying of a Khimki court report.
Per ESPN, a consular official met with Griner last week, and State Department spokesman Ned Price relayed a report:
“That consular official came away with the impression that Brittney Griner is doing as well as might be expected under conditions that can only be described as exceedingly difficult. But sporadic contact is not satisfactory. It also may not be consistent with the Vienna Convention to which Russia has subscribed.”
Griner is one of the most accomplished basketball players in the sport’s history. She’s a seven-time WNBA All-Star who has averaged 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocks over a nine-year pro career.
That’s in addition to a pair of Olympic gold medals with Team USA, the 2012 NCAA championship with Baylor and the 2014 WNBA title with the Mercury. She was also named to the WNBA’s 25th Anniversary Team last year.