Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James used his platform to amplify the plight of Brittney Griner, criticizing the United States on the handling of her case.
It’s been 145 days since Brittney Griner was first detained in Russian custody for what Griner claims was an unintentional possession of vape cartridges in a Moscow airport, and many in the basketball world are calling for her release.
Griner recently plead guilty to the charges in a Russian court as Russia prepares to hear her case, and all those concerned about Griner’s welfare wonder when she will be able to come home.
The situation is a complicated geopolitical one, as many legal experts have said that Russia is hoping for a prisoner swap with the United States in a package that could send Griner and fellow American Paul Whelan back stateside in exchange for Viktor Bout, but the timeline for any return for both Griner and Whelan remains uncertain.
Despite being one of the best centers the league has ever seen, many have compared the lacking media coverage of Griner to the imagined media covered if a male superstar athlete like Tom Brady, Steph Curry or LeBron James were locked up abroad. In that regard, James has spoken out on how Griner’s continued detainment might make Griner feel overlooked by her nation.
“How can she feel like America has her back?” James posited during a recent promotion for an upcoming episode of The Shop.
“I would be feeling like, ‘Do I even want to go back to America?'” James continued.
LeBron James wonders how Brittney Griner can feel like ‘America has her back’ during Russian detainment
To some extent, James and the rest of the world did receive some insight into Griner’s thought process when she penned a letter to President Joe Biden on July 4:
"″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, I’m terrified I might be here forever. Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore.”"
Terrified that she will be detained in Russia “forever”, and facing a potential ten-year sentence for her charges, James joins a heavily-concerned chorus of voices in the NBA and WNBA as friends, family members and teammates wonder when BG will come home.