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The WNBA season will start later this week with Brittney Griner in mind.
The Phoenix Mercury star was detained in Russia in February for allegedly trying to bring vape cartridges containing oils derived from cannabis through a Moscow airport. She’s been held ever since.
The WNBA will honor Griner with a floor decal, according to multiple reports. The league’s Board of Governors also approved Phoenix paying Griner $228,000 – the WNBA max – and not have it count against the organization’s cap, The Associated Press reported.
The decal will feature Griner’s initials “BG” as well as her No. 42. All teams will have the decal on their home courts starting Friday night. The Mercury begin their season against the Las Vegas Aces.
ESPN first reported the decal.
On Monday, Griner was featured in a hype video released by the Mercury. The video has voiceovers 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.
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 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.