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Silver said the league is working in ‘lockstep’ with US government.

As the 2022 NBA Finals got underway at the Chase Center in San Francisco, California, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took to the podium to discuss league matters.

One of those matters – the situation regarding WNBA star Brittney Griner – is quite pressing.

Griner has been held in Russia since February, after Russian authorities said they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. In early May, the U.S. government determined that Griner was being “wrongfully detained” by the Russian government.

“It’s been now over 100 days since she’s been illegally held in Russia,” Silver said prior to the start of the NBA Finals. “I think it’s something that all of us should be heard on, contacting your representatives and others. I will only say, we are working in lockstep with the U.S. government and outside experts on trying to expedite her release in any way we can. Certainly, our hearts go out to her and her family and are just eager for her safe return”

In mid-May, Griner’s pre-trial extension was extended one month, according to her lawyer. Griner’s lawyer believes that the short extension signifies that the case will go to trial shortly.

The WNBA and the NBA remained relatively quiet in the months after Griner’s arrest, a strategy that Silver said came at the behest of experts.

“The league, and by that both the WNBA and its brother league – the NBA – we have a huge responsibility to Brittney Griner as one of our players,” Silver said during the NBA Draft lottery on May 17. “Part of our decision to not take a higher profile here, frankly came at the suggestion of experts in and out of government, who thought the best path to getting Brittney out was not to amplify the issue.”

“Having said that, there’s an enormous role for the public to play, through protest or letting their representatives know how strongly they feel about this,” Silver continued. “Cathy Engelbert, the commissioner of the WNBA, is on this issue every single day. I’m working side by side with her, but we’ve been in touch with the White House, the State Department, hostage negotiators … At every level of government, but also through the private sector as well. Our number one priority is her health and safety and making sure that she gets out of Russia.”

Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and won the 2014 WNBA championship with the Phoenix Mercury.

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