For the Phoenix Mercury, its “heartbroken” WNBA team, Brittney Griner's conviction marks a “significant milestone” in “the 168-day nightmare that our sister, BG, has endured for the past 168 days”.
“We will not allow it to be forgotten. We are BG,” added the Arizona club.
Ahead of the start of a championship game in Connecticut, Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard confided that “it was really hard to see +BG+ today and to hear his words”.
“The players were looking at her. Emotions intensified throughout the day. We are going to play, but how can we focus on this game? It's such an emotional day for us.”
Several other athletes expressed the same dismay.
“Seeing BG behind these bars breaks my heart. I pray hard for her today,” tweeted Diamond DeShields, who plays for Chicago Sky, the defending WNBA champion team.
Speaking to Joe Biden, former women's basketball star Swin Cash asked him: “Please (…) bring Brittney Griner home! We will not stop advocating for him…”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that Washington had made a “substantial offer” to Moscow to free Griner and the former US Marine Paul Whelan, imprisoned in Russia for spying.
Many voices have called on the government to continue this negotiation process, with the player's agent, Lindsay Colas, stressing on Twitter that the sentencing “proves what we've known all along, that Brittney is being used as a political pawn.”
“Not possible! 9 years ? Bring our sister and friend home. #FREEBG”, finally called Grant Williams, winger of the Boston Celtics, beaten in the NBA finals in June by Golden State.
These “FREEBG” (“Free BG”) were relayed from all sides on the networks social.