As Brittney Griner readies for trial this week in Russia, her head coach with the Phoenix Mercury can't help but wonder if the situation would be resolved already if it were LeBron James who was detained.
Speaking after her team's loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on Monday, Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard spoke to the media about the message that's being sent by not bringing Griner home.
"If it was LeBron, he'd be home, right?" Nygaard asked. "It's a statement about the value of women. It's a statement about the value of a black person. It's a statement about the value of a gay person. All of those things. We know it, and so that's what hurts a little more."
Griner wrote a letter to President Joe Biden, pleading for him to not "forget about me and the other American Detainees."
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden had read the letter and Griner's return is a priority for the administration.
"We believe she is wrongfully detained," Jean-Pierre said. "We believe she needs to come home."
.@PressSec on letter from Brittney Griner to President Biden: "The president did read the letter...This is an issue that is a priority for this president...We believe she is wrongfully detained. We believe she needs to come home." pic.twitter.com/yh3EN2vMkU
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 5, 2022
The two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested on Feb. 17 on charges of possessing cannabis oil while returning to play for her Russian team. The trial will resume Thursday and, if Griner is found guilty, she could face up to 10 years in jail
The Mercury will hold a public rally in support of Brittney Griner on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Footprint Center.
The rally will be in coordination with U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton, a Democrat who represents parts of the Phoenix metro area.
He introduced a resolution calling on the Russian Federation to release Griner from detainment. The resolution passed the U.S. House of Representatives on June 24.
Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, is scheduled to be a featured speaker at the rally.
Tickets are free and can be obtained at am.ticketmaster.com/mercury/FreeBG.
(Includes reports from The Arizona Republic).
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Brittney Griner's coach: 'If it was LeBron, he'd be home'