Brittney Griner's defence team appeals nine-year prison sentence

By Sports Desk August 15, 2022

Brittney Griner's defence team has appealed against her nine-year prison sentence in Russia.

The WNBA star was this month jailed for drug possession and drug smuggling with criminal intent for bringing under a gram of cannabis oil into the country nearly six months ago.

Judge Anna Sotnikova rejected Griner's apology and plea for leniency. Griner said she had made an "honest mistake".

Griner was arrested in Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport on February 17 for carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. She was returning to Russia, where she has played since 2014 during the WNBA offseason.

The eight-time WNBA All-Star was, her lawyers argued, using cannabis for medicinal purposes to treat chronic pain sustained over the course of her career.

The two-time Olympic champion said she accidentally packed the cartridges and was unaware cannabis oil was outlawed in Russia.

United States president Joe Biden slammed the sentence as "unacceptable" and Griner's lawyer Maria Blagovolina told Reuters on Monday that an appeal had been filed.

The US government and Russia are engaged in prisoner swap negotiations that, if successful, would see Griner released to return home.

Related items

  • Steve Nash doesn't care if Ben Simmons ever shoots for Nets Steve Nash doesn't care if Ben Simmons ever shoots for Nets

    The way Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash sees it, it does not matter if Ben Simmons ever takes a shot for his team because he does so many other things well.

    Two-time NBA All-Defensive First Teamer Simmons is set to make his debut for the Nets this season after he missed all last season while waiting for a trade out of Philadelphia and then dealing with rehab from back surgery as well as ongoing mental health issues.

    "Very unique," Nash said of Simmons after the second full practice of training camp on Wednesday. "That's what makes Ben great.

    "That's why I don't care if he ever shoots a jump shot for the Brooklyn Nets. He's welcome to, but that is not what makes him special and not what we need. He's a great complement to our team, and he's an incredible basketball player because of his versatility."

    The Nets have the luxury of having two standout scorers on their roster in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, which should allow Simmons to play a more wide-ranging role.

    "I think they'll have a certain element of cohesion out of the gates," Nash said of his star trio. "Because they're all really good basketball players, but hopefully it's something that evolves. And they can continue to find ways to make each other better. I think that's the beauty, that they actually fit really well together, but it may take time."

    With Durant and Irving handling the bulk of the offense, Simmons will be free to focus on defense and rebounding while creating open looks for his star teammates.

    "You're playing with some great NBA players, some of the greatest," Simmons said. "So, for me, it's just playing alongside them, figuring out where they want their shots, how they move, different spots on the floor where I need to be. It's just timing."

    Simmons' career 8.1 rebounds per game should benefit the Nets, who lost one of the league's best rebounding guards when James Harden was dealt to the 76ers.

    "He helps us for sure defensively, rebounding," Nash said. "And not only the talent he has, but also just size. Overall team size is something we struggled with."

    Nash said he wouldn't have a problem giving the 6-foot-10, 230-pound Simmons minutes at centre when the situation calls for it.

    "If he's the 'lone big,' that's a role we would definitely play him at," he said. "But he's also our playmaker and point guard."

  • 'We all were hurting' – Steve Nash addresses Kevin Durant's offseason ultimatum 'We all were hurting' – Steve Nash addresses Kevin Durant's offseason ultimatum

    Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash said there are no lingering ill effects from Kevin Durant’s trade request or his demand that Nash be fired this summer. 

    Nash told reporters Tuesday that he met with Durant last month to "move forward" and "clear the air".   

    "We're fine," Nash said after the Nets' first practice of the season. "We're good. Ever since we talked, it's been like nothing's changed. I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it's behind us. That's what happens. It's a common situation in the league. 

    "We all were hurting, seething, to go through what we went through last year, not being able to overcome all that adversity. Sometimes you lose perspective because you expect to win, but the reality is we were able to talk and discuss what we can improve on from last year, and also keep perspective. We went through a ton of stuff."

    Durant shook the NBA this offseason when he demanded to be traded, citing the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat as his preferred destinations.  

    When it became clear that an ideal trade was not imminent, Durant met with Nets owner Joe Tsai and reportedly said he was willing to remain in Brooklyn if Nash and general manager Sean Marks were replaced.  

    Nash pushed back Tuesday that Durant ever demanded a coaching change.  

    "I never thought that was 100 percent," Nash said. "There was a lot of things. It's not black and white like that, so there was a lot of factors. A lot of things behind the scenes.

    "A lot of things reported are not accurate. A lot of things that are reported are not 100 percent accurate. So you get fragmented bits of truth. You get things that are flat out not true. It happens... so I never really get caught up in all that stuff. 

    "I'm going to hear it from Kevin when the time is right. I'm going to talk to Sean, I'm going to talk to all the parties involved. So you just work through it step by step. You don't overreact. We stay calm and work on communication and facts and here we are."

    One of the central challenges for Nash this season will be to keep his team focused on the court despite the seemingly never-ending storm of storylines surrounding the Nets.  

    "I think we're in a really good position to start the season," Nash said. "And regardless of the way everyone wants to talk about drama all the time, we've been through this. I played in the league for 17, 18 years… It does not impact me the way maybe it impacts people on the street or in the media, so it was never really as a big a deal to me. 

    "I always thought we'd have our moment, we'd discuss it and we would choose a course and we're fortunate to all be in the gym working together again and excited. I think the energy's been outstanding."

  • Lonzo Ball to undergo second knee surgery this year Lonzo Ball to undergo second knee surgery this year

    Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball is still unable to run or jump without pain in his surgically repaired left knee and will undergo a second arthroscopic surgery, ESPN reported Tuesday.  

    His discomfort remains nearly 10 months on from his initial injury back in January, with Ball telling the media it is nothing like he has ever experienced before. The operation is scheduled for Wednesday.  

    "There was a point where we would warm up and stuff, and I would go through certain days and it would be fine," Ball told reporters Tuesday. "Then whenever I got to real basketball activities, I just couldn't do it.  

    "Unfortunately, this is what's at hand and has to be dealt with. We feel like surgery, again, is the best option." 

    The Bulls said that they will reevaluate Ball in four to six weeks, but neither the team nor Ball himself was willing to put a timeline on the point guard’s return from a third career surgery on his left knee.  

    "For me, this will be my third surgery, so this time around I really don't want to rush anything," Ball said.  

    Ball’s continued pain and stunted recovery have been both a surprise and a mystery to his medical team as he continues to struggle with some day-to-day activities, including walking up stairs.  

    "From my understanding they're going in there to see what it is, because it's not necessarily showing up on the MRI," Ball said. "It's clear that there's something there that's not right, so they're going to go in, look at it, and whatever needs to be done is going to be done. 

    "I've never felt pain like this or was able to ramp up a little bit but never fully, so definitely a unique situation. The doctors and the Bulls, we're all trying to figure out what it is." 

    Despite the considerable setback, Ball does not believe the injury will sideline him for the entire season.  

    "That's not in my mind right now, but that would be the worst-case scenario," Ball said. "I'm at a point now where I know I can't get back out there until I'm comfortable playing and can actually play. So whenever that day comes, that's when I'll have the jersey back on." 

    The news comes as the Bulls practiced for the first time in preparation for the 2022-23 season. Chicago hopes to improve on last season when they started hot but ended up as the Eastern Conference’s No. 6 seed and losing their first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks in five games. 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.