SAN FRANCISCO — Members of the Boston Celtics wore T-shirts with “WE ARE BG” written across them at practice Saturday ahead of Game 2 of the NBA Finals in support of WNBA superstar Brittney Griner, who remains detained in Russia.
“The shirts were super important not only showing our support for our sister that is detained over in Russia, Brittney Griner, we just wanted to show that togetherness and love that we have throughout not only the NBA but the WNBA,” Grant Williams said. “She’s been a vital part of the WNBA over years past, college, and in the amount of impact she’s had on young female athletes, USA and overseas.
“We hope to have her back in the U.S. and reunited with her family and do what she loves and bring that love and tenacity she always plays with on the court.”
Williams, a vice president within the National Basketball Players Association, said the shirts were a collaboration between the NBPA and WNBPA as a way to show support for Griner as she continues to be held in Russia, where she’s been in custody since early February.
“They sent them overnight to get them here for today,” Williams said. “They did a phenomenal job, and want to credit them to make that process happen. We just wanted to do that as a team. It was one of those things where no one questioned it. Everyone said, ‘Let’s do it.’ Everyone put the shirt on immediately when we got them, fresh off the box. They were ironed and good to go. So we wanted to show that love and support.”
Griner, 31, is a seven-time All-Star and 2014 WNBA champion, and has been one of the league’s best players since being drafted by the Phoenix Mercury with the No. 1 overall pick in 2013 draft out of Baylor, where she won a championship in 2012.
The 6-foot-9 center has been in custody since being detained at an airport in mid-February, with the United States government saying Griner has been wrongfully detained.
For the Celtics, it was a chance to show solidarity with Griner with the attention of the basketball world on them during the NBA’s championship round.
“As a collective we wanted to come out and show our support for Brittney Griner,” Celtics star Jaylen Brown said. “She’s been over there for an extended amount of time, and we feel like enough is enough.”
Jayson Tatum got to know Griner when both were members of Team USA at last year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo. He said the restrictions on the movement of players due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic meant he got a chance to spend lots of time with Griner, and enjoyed being in her company.
“Being over there with the Olympics, obviously it was during COVID and so we couldn’t really go out and see other events and things like that,” Tatum said. “So after the games, after practice, we would be in the hospitality room, men and women. We would be in there, playing cards, karaoke, things like that, video games. Great person to be around. She just lightens the entire room with her personality.
“So it’s extremely tough seeing what she’s going through. I know everybody sees and feels that, and obviously we’re all together in support trying to bring her back to her family and things like that. Yeah, wearing those shirts today in support of her.”