NBA star LeBron James publicly questioned the U.S. government’s handling of Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia, saying it doesn’t appear the country’s leaders have the WNBA star’s “back.”
James made the comment in a preview video for the latest episode of his show, The Shop, which is scheduled to air Friday on Uninterrupted‘s YouTube channel.
“Now, how can she feel like America has her back?” James says in the video. “I would be feeling like, ‘Do I even want to go back to America?'”
The Los Angeles Lakers star is joined on the episode by Oscar-winning British actor Daniel Kaluuya, English soccer star Marcus Rashford, and American artist Rashid Johnson.
[Watch the video below]
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After facing backlash on social media for his comments, James later clarified saying he “wasn’t knocking” the U.S.
“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,” he tweeted Tuesday night.
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
— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 13, 2022
The NBA legend has been vocal about Griner’s case. Last month he took to social media to urge his followers to press the Biden administration to do more to bring her home. “We need to come together and help do whatever we possibly can to bring BG home quickly and safely!!” he wrote on Instagram. “Our voice as athletes is stronger together.”
On July 7, Griner pleaded guilty to drug possession and smuggling charges in a Russian court. But she said “there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law.” She told the court she was packing in a hurry and accidentally put drugs in her luggage.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist was detained at Moscow Airport on Feb. 17, after Russian officials said vape cartridges with hashish oil were found inside her luggage. She had traveled to Russia to play in the off-season and make extra money.
Earlier this month, Griner sent a letter to President Joe Biden pleading for him to help get her out of Russia.
In response, The White House issued a statement saying Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had spoken by phone to the Phoenix Mercury player’s wife, Cherelle Griner. The statement also mentioned Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen and former Marine, who has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges.