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'We are BG': Mystics call for Brittney Griner's return in postgame team statement

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The WNBA season tipped off on Friday night, but did so without one of its best and most influential players. Her peers ensured that wasn't forgotten.

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner remains detained in Russia after the country's customs officials allegedly found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. Griner was returning to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg, where she makes the bulk of her annual income, out of the international break in February. Russia invaded Ukraine shortly thereafter.

Throughout the day, players posted prayers and thoughts on Twitter in stating it's time for the star to come home. Earlier in the week, the U.S. state department changed Griner's status to "wrongfully detained," meaning the government is now actively seeking her return. It also opened the door for players, teams and the league to make noise about Griner after working to keep it quiet over the past few months as it was in the MVP candidate's best interest.

The Washington Mystics players were the first to issue a statement as a team after their season-opening win against the Indiana Fever. They played the first game in the night and players, particularly Elena Delle Donne, know Griner from winning gold medals with Team USA.

Natasha Cloud, one of the league's most outspoken advocates, read the statement from the locker room with her team around her:

"It has been 78 days since our friend, teammate, sister Brittney Griner has wrongfully been detained in Russia. It is time for her to come home. Know that we are watching, we are paying attention. We are BG."

The Mercury honored their star with T-shirts featuring her initials and jersey number.

Sandy Brondello, the former Mercury head coach, was asked about her after the New York Liberty's opening win at Barclays Center on Saturday night. Brondello, who coached Griner all but one of the star's nine seasons, grew emotional talking about "part of my family."

And players around the league mentioned her in social media posts on Friday ahead of opening night with the same meaning as the Mystics group words.

The WNBA Players Association (WNBPA) account asked that all start the day thinking of Griner. The MLS Players Association posted in solidarity around the time of first tip.

There is a "BG 42" decal on all 12 WNBA courts and every market is hosting a "Heart and Sole Shoe Drive" activation to honor Griner. The event was launched by Griner and the Mercury hosted the fifth annual one in April while Griner remained detained.

A detail view of the decal honoring Brittney Griner before the game between the Phoenix Mercury and the Las Vegas Aces at Footprint Center in Phoenix on May 6, 2022. Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner has been detained by the Russian government since February. (Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
A detail view of the decal honoring Brittney Griner before the game between the Phoenix Mercury and the Las Vegas Aces at Footprint Center in Phoenix on May 6, 2022. Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner has been detained by the Russian government since February. (Chris Coduto/Getty Images)