Brittney Griner, WNBA Player Detained in Russia, Selected as Honorary All-Star Game Starter

“It is not difficult to imagine that if BG were here with us this season, she would once again be selected," WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury poses for a portrait during the WNBA Media Day on May 6, 2021, at Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
Brittney Griner. Photo: Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty

Brittney Griner won't be able to attend this year's WNBA All-Star Game, but the league has found a special way to honor her.

On Wednesday, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced that Griner — a center for the Phoenix Mercury detained in Russia since February — has been named as an honorary starter for the 2022 WNBA All-Star Game in Chicago.

"During each season of Brittney's career in which there has been an All-Star Game, she has been selected as an All-Star," Engelbert said in a statement.

"It is not difficult to imagine that if BG were here with us this season, she would once again be selected and would, no doubt, show off her incredible talents," she added. "So, it is only fitting that she be named as an honorary starter today and we continue to work on her safe return to the U.S."

The organization said that Griner has appeared in seven other WNBA All-Star Games throughout her career.

In February, Griner was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow after officials allegedly found vape cartridges containing hash oil, an illegal substance in Russia, in her luggage.

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The U.S. State Department later officially classified Griner as wrongfully detained by the Russian Federation.

According to the Associated Press, Griner's case is now being handled by the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, which focuses on hostage release and freeing Americans it determines have been wrongfully detained.

Earlier this month, Russian state media agency TASS reported that a court has ruled to keep the 31-year-old American basketball player in custody through at least July 2.

The 2022 WNBA All-Star Game will air live on July 10 at 1 p.m. ET on ABC.

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