Brittney Griner Appeal Hearing Dates Set

by Chris Haney
(Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

On Monday, news out of Moscow shared that WNBA star Brittney Griner now has a date set for her appeal hearing. Griner’s defense team will appeal her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug possession on October 25.

On August 4, a Russian court convicted the Phoenix Mercury’s All-Star center in relation to an incident at Sheremetyevo Airport. Police found vape canisters in her luggage that contained cannabis oil. Now, a Moscow regional court will hear her defense’s appeal of the conviction.

Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to having the cannabis oil canisters in her luggage. However, she testified that she did not mean to pack them in her bags when traveling. Her lawyers said that she had no criminal intent with the cartridges. Additionally, they added that Griner is prescribed cannabis in the United States to treat pain.

Brittney Griner’s conviction carried up to a 10-year sentence in prison for her offense. However, many claim her nine-year sentence is an excessive punishment since similar cases have received an average of five years in Russia.

Previous to her conviction, the U.S. State Department declared that Griner is being “wrongfully detained.” Russia has firmly rejected those claims.

Brittney Griner’s Former Coach, Kim Mulkey, Refuses to Comment on WNBA Star’s Detainment

Russian authorities originally detained Brittney Griner back in February and she’s been under arrest ever since. While numerous pro athletes, celebrities, and politicians have called for her release, Griner’s former head coach at Baylor is keeping quiet.

Coach Kim Mulkey is now at LSU these days and recently spoke during an annual preseason press conference ahead of the college basketball season just last week. Reporters asked Mulkey about her former player being held in Russia, but she avoided answering the question with much detail. A reporter at the press conference asked Mulkey for her thoughts on the matter.

“Just wanted to get your thoughts on Brittney Griner’s situation. I don’t think I’ve seen anything from you on that,” one reporter said to the head coach.

“And you won’t,” Kim Mulkey simply answered.

Griner played at Baylor for Mulkey from 2009-2013. The pair won a national championship together during the 2011-12 season and went undefeated that year with a perfect 40-0 record. Griner also earned the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player award that season. The head coach and player have plenty of history together, but it’s uncertain why she refused to comment on her former player’s situation.

WNBA Star’s “Good Friend” Continues to Play in Russia

Since WNBA players don’t get paid nearly as much as NBA players, many play overseas during the offseason. That’s why Brittney Griner and many others sign for teams in countries like Russia since their earning potential there is much higher.

Since Griner’s sentencing, many WNBA players have protested by choosing to not play basketball in Russia. However, the New York Times reported that Alex Bentley, one of Griner’s “good friends” will continue to play  in the country after signing a contract with UMMC Yekaterinburg. Bentley’s agent spoke to the New York Times and confirmed that she’s good friends with Brittney Griner. But she also wants to continue playing basketball, so she went ahead with the contract.

Alex Bentley has played six seasons in the WNBA. The Atlanta Dream selected her in the second round of the 2013 WNBA Draft out of Penn State. She last played in the WNBA during the 2018-2019 season.