LeBron James criticizes U.S. response to Brittney Griner


(NewsNation) — Basketball star LeBron James says if he were Brittney Griner, the WNBA player who is detained in Russia, he would question coming back to the United States.

James remarked on Griner’s detainment during a taping of “The Shop.”

“How can she feel like America has her back?” James questioned. “I would be feeling, like, ‘Do I even want to go back to America?’”

In response to the comment, NewsNation’s “On Balance” host Leland Vittert said, “How could we bring Brittney Griner back, a woman wrongly imprisoned because she’s an American and held against her will? How could we help LeBron at the same time because he clearly has such issues with America? How about a trade? Again, LeBron hates America, Brittany wants to come back home.”

Griner, 31, is an Olympic gold medalist and seven-time All-Star basketball player who earns extra money in the WNBA offseason by playing in Russia.

She was arrested in February as she went through Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Authorities report they discovered vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

She has now been held in Russia for more than 140 days, with the State Department designating her as “wrongfully detained.”

President Joe Biden received a handwritten letter from Griner. The basketball star recognized her fears she may never return home to America and urged the president not to “forget about me and the other American detainees.” Biden later told Griner’s wife he is working to free the basketball star as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Griner’s coach and the WNBA are advocating for her release.

Phoenix Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard questioned what U.S. officials would do if LeBron James was being held in Russia.

“If it was LeBron, he’d be home, right?” Nygaard said in an interview. “It’s a statement about the value of women. It’s a statement about the value of a Black person. It’s a statement about the value of a gay person. All of those things. We know it, and so that’s what hurts a little more.”

There seems to be a renewed sense of urgency for Griner’s release. She recently entered a guilty plea to drug possession charges.

Speaking through an interpreter, Griner told the court she acted unintentionally and packed in a hurry.

Her trial has been adjourned until July 14. She could face up to 10 years in prison.

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