LeBron James slams US effort to free Brittney Griner from Russian detention

Brittney Griner and LeBron James

Basketball star LeBron James has slammed efforts in the US to end Brittney Griner’s detention in a Russian prison. 

James is seen discussing the handling of Griner’s case during a trailer for an upcoming episode of his television show, “The Shop: Uninterrupted”. 

Griner was arrested in February at the Sheremetyevo Alexander S Pushkin International Airport after vape cartridges containing hashish oil were allegedly found in her bag.

She pleaded guilty as her trial began last week, and will appear in court again on Thursday. 

“Now, how can she feel like America has her back?” James said in the trailer. “I would be feeling like, ‘Do I even wanna go back to America?’”

James has since clarified his comments on Twitter, writing: “My comments on ‘The Shop’ regarding Brittney Griner wasn’t knocking our beautiful country.

“I was simply saying how she’s probably feeling emotionally along with so many other emotions, thoughts, etc inside that cage she’s been in for over 100+ days! Long story short #BringHerHome”.

It is thought the episode was filmed at the start of June, when Griner had been detained in Russia for around 110 days. Since then, the 31-year-old’s trial has begun. 

Griner’s wife Cherelle recently had a phone conversation with Joe Biden, and the US President also received a letter from Griner on July 4th before sending one back. 

In the letter to Biden, Gradin revealed she was “terrified I might be here forever”.

“I realise you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other detainees,” she said. “Please do all you can to bring us home.”

Another excerpt read: “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.

“I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has reiterated that Washington will continue to work for the release of Griner, as well as other Americans held by Moscow.

American basketball star Brittney Griner

Griner, a Phoenix Mercury star, has won WNBA, Euroleague and Olympic titles. She spends her off-season competing in Russia, most recently for UMMC Ekaterinburg.

Off the court, Griner is seen as an LGBTQ+ icon. She came out publicly aged 22, and soon after became the first openly gay athlete to be endorsed by Nike.

James is another basketball legend, and is widely considered one of the greatest players of all time. 

The 37-year-old, who plays for Los Angeles Lakers, has won four NBA championships and two Olympic gold medals.

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