Before the Basketball World Cup, ‘Hell on Earth’ nurse remembers WNBA season without Greiner

early August day Britney Greiner He was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison, Kia nurse Which Phoenix Mercury His teammates watched the agonizing court proceedings take place on their phones in their locker room.

Mercury hosted Connecticut Sun Later that day, both teams locked up arms in center court before the game for 42 seconds of silence – a nod to Griner’s Phoenix jersey number.

“It was really hard to play that game,” said a nurse. “I don’t know how my teammates did it. It was really hard to play an entire season without her.”

The 26-year-old protector from Hamilton returns to the Canadian squad for the FIBA ​​Women’s World Cup in Australia, her first official action since rupturing the ACL in her right knee on October 6.

The nurse held back tears on Monday as she recalled the darkest days of Mercury’s “Hell on Earth” season.

“BG is the best of the best when it comes to humans,” she said of Griner, the eight-time WNBA star, who was convicted of drug possession and smuggling after less than a gram of cannabis oil was found in her. Luggage.

“It’s been a lot this season not having her on the field, not having her spirit and energy… and the fact that she is not home yet is frustrating. We did our best as a team to make sure that her story was, to make sure her name is as candid as possible… but you go to training and wondering what you’re doing.”

Mercury Griner’s BG Heart and Sole Shoe Drive continued in her absence, visiting all 12 WNBA markets.

“We continue to keep her in our prayers, to keep her family in our prayers, to continue to make sure she knows she is loved, not forgotten, and as focused as possible on those who have the power to make decisions to help bring her home – because she is being unjustly held there by all accounts” , said a nurse.

The nurse’s knee injury made last year the most difficult year of her career.

“There have been great days, many bad days, many tears, a lot of anger, but a lot of small victories along the way as well,” the nurse said in a Zoom media outlet in Sydney, Australia. “I’ve had the easiest physical process possible, my knees, she’s an amazing girl, and I love her for that. But, mentally, it was tough. It was up and down and roller coaster.”

She spent several months of rehab at her home in Ontario, leaning on her boyfriend John Robinson IV and her family for support.

“John, poor man, has spent all my good days, and has been exposed to heat all my bad days,” laughed the nurse.

She sought healing advice from her brother Darnell, a man of defense who has a Edmonton Oilersand her uncle Donovan McNab, a 13-year-old NFL veteran who also tore his ACL.

“We’ve been through hell on earth this year as a team,” said a nurse. “Not being able to be with them was one of the hardest things and here my patience was very enduring. I’m not as patient as I would have liked, but it’s practical and even to this point, you can’t skip anything in the process.

“As much as I’d like to skip a minute limitation in this tournament, I’m not allowed to.”

The Canadian women opened the Basketball World Cup against Serbia on Thursday (11pm ET on Wednesday), then play France, Japan, Australia and Mali in the group stage. The nurse, who last played for the national team at the Tokyo Olympics where Canada didn’t make the preliminary round, is hoping to increase her playing time with each match.

The veteran of the team Natalie Ashunwawho tore her ACL in her first season at Notre Dame, reassured the nurse that “there is no weight on her shoulders.”

“She looks great,” Ashunwa said. “I tell Kia every day that she just needs to be her. Especially through a process like tearing the ACL and back from that, I’ve been there, done it and realize the mental and emotional stress it takes.

“I’ve dealt with this every day and as we say, celebrate the small victories…but Kia has been dominant in practice and in my two exhibition games (vs China and Puerto Rico). I was so happy to see her and share her on the court again.”

The six-foot-tall nurse said that since she landed in the weight room for much of her rehab, she’s been the strongest she’s ever been. She said she hasn’t forgotten how to pass, dribble or shoot, it’s just a matter of being able to do it again at high speed.

Mentally, she said she’s learned that she’s “really resilient.”

“I’ve always been told I’m a strong player, and I think a lot of that comes from just being able to throw my body around the floor, take the hit and stand up again,” she said. “This is the first time I have had to deal with an injury of this magnitude and length.

“I’ve learned how to be a better coach, a better professional athlete in terms of taking care of my body… It’s helped me figure out what’s best for me as a person. And hey, I’m a hell fighter. That’s what I’ve learned.”

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on September 19, 2022.

Laurie Ewing, Canadian Press

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