Penny Taylor calls for Griner’s release during Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction


Penny Taylor used her induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame to call for the release of former WNBA Phoenix Mercury teammate Brittney Griner, noting that it has been 114 days since the seven-time WNBA All-Star was detained.

« BG is our family, » Taylor said of asking President Biden for help in freeing Griner. « She’s yours too. The entire global sporting community must come together to insist that she be a priority. »

The two-time Olympic gold medalist has been detained since February 17 after vaping cartridges containing cannabis-derived oil were found in her luggage at an airport near Moscow.

Taylor also wished his wife, Diana Taurasi, a happy 40th birthday after performing in a Mercury victory Friday night and then traveling to Tennessee to escort her to the induction ceremony. Taylor helped Australia win two Olympic silver medals in 2004 and 2008. She also won three WNBA titles in 2007, 2009 and 2014 and was a three-time All-Star.

« If you keep working hard, maybe you too will be here, » Taylor told Taurasi.

DeLisha Milton-Jones concluded her acceptance speech by calling for bringing Griner home. DePaul’s coach Doug Bruno noted that Griner played a big role in USA Basketball’s Olympic success.

« Brittney is a wonderful human being, » Bruno said. « No one deserves what Britney is going through. Enough is pretty absolute. It’s time for the powers that be to bring Brittney home.

Other inductees included Becky Hammon, Debbie Antonelli, Wayland Baptist star Alice « Cookie » Barron as a veteran player, Paul Sanderford who coached Western Kentucky to three Final Fours, and coach Bob Schneider who placed third. all-time with 634 Division II wins.

The Hall also honored Title IX as one of the game’s award-winning pioneers on its 50th anniversary. Barron, who flew to games between 1954 and 1957 with the Flying Queens literally flying to away games while the men traveled by bus, called on everyone to listen.

« I want to implore all of us to watch Title IX very closely, » Barron said. « The doors are open. We must never let them close. »

Milton-Jones, now head coach at Old Dominion, capped her four-year career in Florida as the 1997 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and All-American. She led the Gators to four straight NCAA tournament berths, including the Elite Eight in 1997.

The fourth overall pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft played 17 seasons in the league. When she retired in 2016, she held the league record for most games played with 499 for Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, Washington and San Antonio. She helped the Los Angeles Sparks win back-to-back WNBA titles in 2001 and 2002.

Milton-Jones also helped the United States win Olympic gold in 2000 and 2008, missing the Athens Games in 2004 due to injury. She has performed in Spain, Italy, Turkey, South Korea, Czech Republic and Republic. in 2005, she served as interim coach for the American Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Stars, becoming the second woman to coach a men’s professional team.

Her family made t-shirts and visors to help her commemorate the moment, and Milton-Jones said it helped put Riceboro, Georgia, on the map.

Hammon was unable to attend with his WNBA-leading Las Vegas aces playing against the Sparks on Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Bruno coached 36 seasons at DePaul with 24 NCAA Tournament berths. He also helped win six gold medals with USA Basketball.

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