Brittney Griner verdict: WNBA players, sports world react to nine-year sentence

One hundred and sixty-eight days after Brittney Griner was arrested at an airport outside of Moscow, the WNBA star was found guilty of charges that she tried to smuggle drugs into Russia and was sentenced to nine years as her trial concluded Thursday.

Griner's guilty verdict and sentence were expected, but now that the trial is over, negotiations for her release are expected to accelerate between the Russian and United States governments.

MORE: Griner found guilty, sentenced to nine years | Timeline

Griner was arrested and taken into custody on Feb. 17 on her way to play for Russian club UMMC Ekaterinburg, where she has played during WNBA offseasons since 2014. Customs officials say they discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil. In early May, the U.S. Department of State declared Griner a wrongful detainee, opening the way for the United States to negotiate her release.

In early June, the United States secretly offered to trade convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and Paul Whelan, another American considered to be wrongfully detained. But Griner's trial started July 1, and she pleaded guilty July 7, saying she never intended to break the law -- a strategy from Griner's legal team in the hopes the judge would be lenient during sentencing.

News of Griner's verdict and sentencing put the sports world on alert, and many WNBA players as well as athletes and coaches took to social media to react to the news.

Many WNBA players tweeted about watching a live feed of the trial and the impact of seeing Griner behind bars, listening as the sentence was quietly translated to her.