NBA superstar LeBron James criticized US efforts to bring home Women’s NBA star Brittney Griner, wondering Tuesday why she would even want to return to America after so long.
On a 30-second trailer for his YouTube talk show “The Shop: Uninterrupted,” it was noted that Griner has been imprisoned in Russia since February, days before Russian troops invaded Ukraine.
“Now, how can she feel like America has her back?” James said. “I would be feeling like, ‘Do I even want to go back to America?'”
Griner remains in a Russian prison after pleading guilty to possessing drugs, traces of which authorities found on vape equipment in her luggage five months ago.
US officials have said they consider Griner’s situation as a wrongful detention.
Los Angeles Lakers playmaker James, a four-time NBA champion and four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, was linked to Griner last week by Griner’s WNBA coach, Vanessa Nygaard of the Phoenix Mercury.
“If it was LeBron, he’d be home, right?” Nygaard said. “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.”
In June, James tweeted his support for Griner with the hashtag “WeAreBG”, saying, “We need to come together and help do whatever we possibly can to bring BG home quickly and safely!! Our voice as athletes is stronger together.”
The full show with complete James comments will debut on Friday.