Instead of being part of the opening lineup,'s initials and jersey number will be emblazoned on the hardwood by all 12 WNBA teams as the league officially tips off Friday night.
"I wish she was here physically," Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley said.
The WNBA all-star and Phoenix Mercury center has been held in Russia since her arrest at a Moscow airport in mid-February. Russian officials claimed Griner's luggage contained vape cartridges with oil derived from cannabis.
Quigley and Chicago Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot both played with Griner during the WNBA offseason in Russia before her arrest.
"We were obviously there when it happened and it could have been any of us," Vandersloot said.
Griner's wife, Cherelle, posted a video of her hugging Griner with the caption "It's GAME DAY!" while a wave of social media tributes have poured in with the hashtag, "We are BG."
Former U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson is assisting Griner's family to help secure her return, CBS News has learned. The State Department signaledthis week in her case.
"We now consider Brittney Griner to be a case of wrongful detention," State Department spokesman Ned Price said earlier this week.
Terri Jackson, the executive director of the WNBA Players Association, told CBS News she hopes Griner will be home before the season ends and said many of the players have been writing letters to her.
Griner'sis expected to be May 19.
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