While WNBA star Brittney Griner remains in a Russian prison awaiting a potential deal that could see her released, it was hoped that she might have the opportunity to play the sport that brought her to the country in the first place. However, according to ESPN investigative reporter T.J. Quinn, it’s not an opportunity that Griner wants right now because it would be too “painful.”
Quinn tweeted Wednesday that he “asked Griner’s lawyer if she’s had an opportunity to play basketball since she was detained.” The response, sadly, is that while the jail does have a basketball hoop, there is no ball. Griner’s lawyers offered to bring one into the prison but she declined, “saying it was too painful to think about.”
I asked Griner's lawyer if she's had an opportunity to play basketball since she was detained. She said the jail has a hoop, but no ball. When Griner's lawyers offered to bring one, BG declined, saying it was too painful to think about. https://t.co/UGY37ZGxEJ
— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) October 19, 2022
It’s a sobering reminder of what it must be like to be locked away in a foreign country over dubious reasons and know that you’re staring down such a long sentence.
That said, Griner’s situation might change next week as she has an appeal meeting scheduled for Tuesday. Per Quinn, while experts have said there is “no chance” her conviction will be overturned, it’s possible that the three-judge panel could reduce her nine-year sentence for smuggling cannabis oil into Russia.
Per Quinn, Griner will attend via videoconference and will have the chance to address the judges.
Her team and officials suspect Russia won't make a trade for her until after the Nov. 8 midterms, as Putin has no desire to help Biden. The hope is that she's able to stay in her Moscow jail until then and not be transferred to the penal colony she was sentenced to.
— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) October 20, 2022
While many have criticized President Joe Biden over not moving faster to get Griner released, as noted by Quinn, it’s almost certain that Russian leader Vladimir Putin is delaying negotiations so as to not give Biden any kind of positive outcome before the November 8 midterms.