How Brittney Griner’s absence affects Team USA at 2022 FIBA World Cup: Since the 2012 Summer Olympics, the United States women’s basketball team hasn’t played in a major tournament without Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner.
The World Cup begins on Wednesday in Sydney and will serve as a somber reminder to the women’s basketball community. It is that one of its most recognizable players of the previous decade is facing an uncertain future in a Russian prison.
Since her arrest in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport for carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil, Griner has been held in custody.
To help with the discomfort of long-term injuries, Griner was given cannabis oil for medical purposes in the United States.
However, this practice is against the law in Russia.
She received a nine-year sentence in August and is waiting to see if she and another American captive, Paul Whelan, would be part of a prisoner swap between the United States and Russia.
U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx remarked, “She has [been a stalwart of USA Basketball], and that’s something our players have dealt with throughout the rest of the season.” Always in our thoughts, she will be remembered with respect.
The number 15 is too old and will never be worn again. As such, our focus should be on maintaining daily rituals that remind her of the love and support of the team.
After making the USA Basketball senior national team for the 2014 World Cup, which she played just a few weeks after winning the WNBA title with the Phoenix Mercury, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2013, Brittney Griner has been an active participant in senior national team competitions.
Griner matched for the U.S. lead in scoring with A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces and averaged 7.2 rebounds per game in the last Olympics in Tokyo.
Jewell Loyd, a guard for the Seattle Storm and a teammate of Griner’s on the U.S. squad in Tokyo, said of Griner, “She’s a significant part of our sisterhood.”
It’s been fantastic getting to know her over the past few years. She has been wonderful to my loved ones and me. The fact that she is still absent here in this world is incredibly sad.
So, I think it’s added incentive for everyone who gets on the court and knows her to play for her. Because she always played hard for her team, whether it was high school, college, or USA Basketball.
Sylvia Fowles of the Lynx, Tina Charles of the Seattle Storm, and Brittney Griner have all been stalwarts of the American interior for quite some time. However, none of them will be taking part in the tournament.
Fowles, who turns 37 next month, has already retired, while Charles, who just turned 33, also seems to have called it a career with the U.S. national team.
While Charles has three Olympic golds and one World Cup gold, Fowles has four Olympic golds and one World Cup gold. In October, Griner will turn 32 years old.
The aforementioned three guys are more conventional low-block threats. Griner, who is 6 feet 9 inches tall, has made 6 of 17 3-point tries in her WNBA career, while Fowles, who is 6 feet 6 inches tall, made her only try from beyond the arc in 2010.
The 6-4 Charles has made 174 threes this season, making them an increasingly important aspect of her game. Only Charles has made a three-pointer in an Olympic or World Cup competition; she had three at the Tokyo Games.
Without those three, 2022 WNBA MVP Wilson (at age 26) and 28-year-old Seattle forward Breanna Stewart are the most seasoned post players on the current U.S. squad.
Wilson, who is 6 and 5 inches tall, will be landing in Australia late after she and the Aces won the WNBA championship on Sunday. With an average of 15.0 points per game, the 6-4 Stewart also led the United States in rebounds (10.0 RPG) at the Tokyo Olympics.
The U.S. team’s newcomers in the post will be 6-5 C/F players. Newly-crowned WNBA Rookie of the Year Shakira Austin, 22, of the Washington Mystics, and runners-up Brionna Jones, 26, and Alyssa Thomas, 30, both of the Connecticut Sun.
Despite the merits of each position, the United States will be lacking in both size and foreign experience if Fowles, Charles, and Griner leave their current positions.
On the other hand, Griner was a lock to make the squad, but neither Fowles nor Charles was. Stewart said there is “an irreplaceable hole” because of BG’s absence.
“We’re just hoping that she’ll be home as soon as possible, hoping that she’s doing as well as she can under the circumstances. But knowing she plays such a significant position in USA Basketball because she dominates and is a kind human being off the court.
It’s hard because there are times when you think, “She should be here, she would be here,” but you also know that this is about more than just basketball.
She needs to be reunited with her loved ones and immediately brought home to safety and good health.
If no one on Team USA wears Griner’s jersey number from previous events, what else can they do to remember her? The Americans know the FIBA’s rules prohibiting political speech at the tournament. However, Griner’s WNBA teammates and friends view this as a matter of compassion.
On Friday, President Biden met with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, to discuss efforts to secure her husband’s release.
Stewart predicted protesters would keep raising their voices to “amplify her name” and exert as much pressure on the White House.
It’s terrific news that Cherelle met with Vice President Biden; this bodes well for our efforts to bring Cherelle home.
But I believe that aiming for gold is the finest way to represent her and honor her.
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