Throughout the weeks that WNBA star Brittney Griner has remained detained in Russia, many of her supporters have brought up LeBron James as a comparison point, maintaining that the United States would have found a way to get him home if he had been in the same situation. At this point, James is providing his own commentary on the matter.
James appears to criticize what he sees as an inadequate response from the government in an attempt to bring back the Phoenix Mercury center, who has been detained since February, in a trailer for a new episode of his HBO show The Shop. The clip was released in advance of the episode’s airing.
“Now, how can she feel like America has her back?” James says in the brief clip. “I would be feeling like, ‘Do I even wanna go back to America?’”
At the beginning of this year, Griner was detained at an airport close to Moscow on suspicion of bringing hashish oil into Russia in the form of vape cartridges. Griner, who is facing a potential sentence of ten years in a Russian prison, pleaded guilty to the charge during a hearing for her trial last week. This action, which some say may help expedite the process of getting Griner back home, is being praised by some.
“The negotiation for her immediate release regardless of the legal proceedings should remain a top priority, and we expect @POTUS and @VP to do everything in their power, right now, to get a deal done to bring her home,” Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, wrote on Twitter in June.
Colas has referred to her detention as a political tool for Russia, and in May, the United States government officially classified Griner as being “wrongfully detained,” a classification that indicates the United States will actively negotiate for her release. Her detention has been referred to by Colas as a political tool for Russia.
Griner communicated her anxiety regarding her detention in a letter that she had handwritten and addressed to President Biden at the beginning of this month. “(As) I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments,” she wrote, “I’m terrified I might be here forever.”