Russia had Griner in detainment for 10 months after arresting her in February. Russia sentenced her to nine years in prison on drug charges. She is back home after 294 days in detainment — welcome news to many including Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James.
During his “The Shop” simulcast of “Thursday Night Football,” James shared his thoughts on Griner’s return to the states.
“I think it’s a great day for us as Americans,” James said, via Sports Illustrated. “Having BG back. In the sports world, just having her presence back. Her wife misses her, her family misses her, her club misses her here in Phoenix. To have her a part of the basketball brother and sisterhood once again, it’s a big day for us.
“Kudos to the president, kudos to Kamala Harris and everyone who had something to do with it. And like [Maverick Carter] said, there’s a lot of people that’s unlawfully detained now, and we hope we can get them all back.”
The U.S. and Russia organized a one-on-one prisoner swap involving Griner and international arms dealer Viktor Bout, also known as the “Merchant of Death.” The two sides negotiated the deal in Moscow over recent weeks with President Joe Biden giving final approval within the past week.
LeBron James Joined By Stephen Curry in Welcoming Brittney Griner Home
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry released a statement of his own Thursday.
“It’s a constant reminder for everybody continuing to use their platforms to speak on issues that are meaningful and can move the needle,” Curry said. “Thank you to President Biden’s administration for being a part of that fight.
“BG, we love you. We thank you for your sacrifice and your continued perseverance and patience to get through this process, and hope you enjoy reuniting with your family. We are always with you, BG.”
Others were more critical of the swap which led to Griner’s release. Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine imprisoned in Russia, did not find himself apart of the swap. Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason spoke out about the exhange.
“I know that we’re all happy that Brittney’s home like we said earlier on,” Esiason said on his radio show. “But when you think about the magnitude of what we traded to get back a WNBA professional athlete and left a Marine sitting there, whose family has been trying for years to get him out of there with nothing, nothing from the U.S. government.”