At the start of 2022, WNBA star Brittney Griner found herself at the center of what would transform into an international incident when she was arrested at an airport in Russia and charged with the possession of the cartridges of hash oil that ultimately led to her being sentenced to nine years in prison.
It didn’t take long for the United States government to attempt to resolve the situation through diplomatic back channels after Griner was initially detained.
While she was forced to endure months in the inhumane penal colony where she was sent following her trial, she was ultimately freed in a prisoner swap involving Viktor Bout, the arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death” who served as the basis for Nicolas Cage’s character in Lord of War.
Griner officially stepped foot on American soil last December and signed a new contract with the Phoenix Mercury earlier this year before making her grand return to the WNBA in May.
The entire situation led to the league considering financial changes to dissuade players from taking their talents overseas in the offseason, but it also had a more immediate impact as far as Griner and the Mercury are concerned.
Griner has been permitted to fly charted flights between games this season in the hopes of avoiding unwanted attention and distractions.
However, according to CNN, she flew with the rest of her teammates out of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport over the weekend only to be confronted by harassed by a man the WNBA described as a YouTube “provocateur,” who reportedly pepper her with questions concerning the arms dealer on the other end of the trade before being tackled and questioned by law enforcement.
ESPN reports Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard responded to the incident by pledging the team “will be making adjustments that maybe should have happened before,” and her legendary teammate Diana Taurasi had this to say while addressing what transpired following Phoenix’s win over Indiana on Sunday:
“That can’t happen, The safety of everyone comes first.
You know basketball is secondary to all that. People have families, kids. To be put in that situation really is disrespectful—to not only BG—but to our team, to the league.
So hopefully they can take steps to make sure that the security of our players throughout the league is at the forefront.”