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WNBA star Brittney Griner was featured in the Phoenix Mercury’s hype video on Monday, which was released days before the 2022 season begins.
The video has voice-overs from Mercury players Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi as the team gets ready for another Finals run. Griner gets a prominent display at the 54-second mark.
“And times that are dark,” Diggins-Smith says while the video pans to Griner and she and Taurasi explain why playing for the city of Phoenix matters to them.
There’s no speaking part about Griner specifically, but her detention in Russia is weighing heavily on the organization and the league as the season gets set to tip-off on Friday. The Mercury will play the Las Vegas Aces at home.
Sophie Cunningham was among those who talked about the star center being absent from the team last month.
“We’ve just got to keep praying for her,” Cunningham said Monday. “We hope she’s well. That’s all we know, you guys know as much as we do. No one wants to be in her situation. We miss her like crazy.”
Cunningham emphasized she was worried for Griner as a human being, not about how her absence will affect the team going forward.
“It’s BG, there’s no one like her in the whole world. We definitely miss her, but it’s not even about basketball anymore. We just want her to be well as a human being. She has a big stage, a lot of people know her, so we want her to be on the court,” she added. “Everyone who loves her just wants her to be home safe.”
Griner was arrested in February after Russian officials said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis.
Griner could face up to a decade in prison if she’s convicted.
It’s unclear whether the latest prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russia will have any bearing on Griner’s case. Russia exchanged jailed U.S. Marine Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was serving a 20-year federal sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.