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Inductees to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame called on President Biden and the U.S. government to safely bring Brittney Griner home from Russia during their induction speeches on Saturday night from the Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville.
“Brittney Griner has been wrongfully detained in Russia for 114 days," Penny Taylor, Griner's former teammate with the Phoenix Mercury, said to open her speech. "BG is our family. She's yours, too. The entire global sport community needs to come together to insist that she be a priority.”
DeLisha Milton-Jones and DePaul head coach Doug Bruno also mentioned the star.
“Brittney is a great human being, and no one deserves what she is going through,” said Bruno, who has coached Griner as an assistant with Team USA. "Enough is absolutely enough. It is time for the powers that be to bring Brittney Griner home."
Griner has been detained in Russia for 115 days as of Sunday, dating back to Feb. 17 when vape cartridges containing hashish oil were allegedly found in her luggage at the Moscow airport. She was returning to play for her Russian club, UMMC Ekaterinburg, after an international break. The U.S. government classified her as wrongfully detained on May 3, allowing friends and family to talk publicly about her case and bring attention to it.
Taylor, Griner and Taylor's wife, Diana Taurasi, played on the 2014 WNBA championship Mercury team. Taylor and Taurasi also won titles in 2007 and 2009. Bruno has experience with the seven-time All-Star through Team USA and Milton-Jones played against Griner in the latter years of her career.
Debbi Antonelli (contributor), Alice "Cookie" Barron (veteran player), Becky Hammon (player), Paul Sanderford (coach) and Bob Schneider (coach) were also inducted. Hammon could not attend as her Las Vegas Aces were in action against the Los Angeles Sparks that night. They moved to a league-best 11-2 record.
Penny Taylor drops in Diana Taurasi joke
Taylor was joined at the induction ceremony by Taurasi, her wife of five years. Taurasi flew overnight after defeating the Atlanta Dream in Phoenix's Footprint Center on Friday night. The GOAT, as voted on during last year's WNBA 25th anniversary season, celebrated her 40th birthday.
"'I'm so grateful for basketball and all the experiences that it's brought me, but mostly for introducing me to my love," Taylor said during the speech, via the Associated Press. She then joked about Taurasi, "If you continue to work hard, you, too, may be up here."
Taylor spent much of her speech talking about her family and cameras captured the heartwarming interactions by Taurasi and their son, Leo. Their daughter, Isla, was also in attendance.
Leo blowing kisses to Penny during her speech has us in tears 🥺 pic.twitter.com/GYJXpyCm0Y
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) June 12, 2022
Taylor was inducted as an international player, though her impact in the WNBA is large. She won three WNBA championships in 13 seasons, 10 of which were in Phoenix. She was a three-time WNBA All-Star (the WNBA did not previously award All-Star nods during Olympic years) and was a 2007 All-WNBA first-team selection.
“She is the soul of what we did to win three championships.”
In honor of Penny Taylor being inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame today, we introduce to you Episode 1 of 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐃𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐞, presented by @CarMax! pic.twitter.com/uMbwRYKpH3
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) June 11, 2022
Taylor also won a championship in the Women's National Basketball League in Australia as well as titles in Italy, Russia and Europe. With the Opals she won a FIBA World Cup gold and two bronze medals.