LeBron James has criticized the US government for its handling of WNBA star Brittney Griner’s imprisonment in Russia.
James addressed the issue in a trailer for his online talk show, “The Shop: Uninterrupted.”
“Now how can she feel like America has her back?” said the Los Angeles Lakers forward. “I would be like, ‘Do I even want to go back to America? “”
The episode will air in its entirety Friday on YouTube.
Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star with the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow on Feb. 17 for carrying vape cartridges that allegedly contained cannabis products.
Last week, Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard referenced James in her call for officials to act faster.
“If it was LeBron, he’d be home, right?” said Nygaard. “It’s a statement about the value of women. It is a statement about the value of a black person. It’s a statement about the value of a gay person. All these things. We know it, and that’s what hurts a little more.
Griner remains detained in Russia
The sports community has continued to advocate for Griner’s return to the United States over the past five months, but she remains in Russian custody as the war in Ukraine continues to cause tension between Washington and Moscow.
The WNBA held its All-Star Game on Sunday in Chicago, with Griner’s detention receiving a lot of attention. Players from both teams wore No. 42 and Griner’s name on their shirts during the second half.
In recent weeks, Griner and his wife Cherelle have corresponded with President Joe Biden, but the administration has not publicly stated a plan for his return.
Griner pleaded guilty last Thursday in a Russian court, saying she accidentally packed the cartridges. ESPN reported over the weekend that Griner’s call could be part of a strategy to facilitate a prisoner swap that could also include former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is also being held in Russia.
In June, the US State Department classified Griner as wrongfully detained.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated that bringing prisoners back to the United States remains a priority.
“We will not back down until Brittney, Paul Whelan and all other wrongfully detained Americans are reunited with their loved ones,” Blinken said on Twitter last week.