As WNBA star Brittney Griner approaches her fifth month in Russian custody, LeBron James criticized the U.S. response to her detainment and questioned whether she would even want to return to her home country.
The episode — which features a wide-ranging discussion among James, co-host Maverick Carter, show creator Paul Rivera, actor Daniel Kaluuya, British soccer star Marcus Rashford and artist Rashid Johnson — will air in its entirety Friday on YouTube.
In the wake of the trailer’s release Tuesday, James followed up on his comments by tweeting that he “wasn’t knocking our beautiful country.”
“I was simply saying how she’s probably feeling emotionally,” he wrote, “along with so many other emotions, thoughts, etc inside the cage she’s been in for over 100+ days!”
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
It’s unclear when the episode was filmed, but the NBA superstar’s comments were released days after Phoenix Mercury Coach Vanessa Nygaard mentioned James while speaking about Griner’s situation.
“If it was LeBron, he’d be home, right?” Nygaard said during a news conference last week. “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. We know it.”
James is one of several high-profile athletes who have publicly advocated for further efforts to bring Griner home. In June, the Lakers star shared a tweet calling on President Biden and Vice President Harris to “bring Brittney home swiftly and safely by taking action today.”
Uninterrupted, a multimedia company founded in part by James, sold shirts stating “We Are BG” this week to benefit the advocacy fund set up by Griner’s family.
Thank you to everyone who purchased our #WeAreBG t-shirt that benefits The BG Advocacy Fund, set up and operated by Brittney’s family. ❤️— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) July 11, 2022
The fight is not over. Brittney is still not home. Visit the link below to sign the petition.
✍🏾: https://t.co/is64KbTaHB pic.twitter.com/KcBcgG2QI9
Griner was arrested Feb. 17 and charged with carrying vape cartridges allegedly containing cannabis oil in her baggage at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison. Griner pleaded guilty to the charge in a Russian court Thursday.
Earlier this month, Griner wrote a letter to Biden. In it, she said she was “terrified” she might be in Russia “forever” and urged Biden to work for her release and that of other Americans detained abroad.
“I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees,” Griner wrote. “Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore. ... I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”
Biden told Griner’s wife, Cherelle, in a call Wednesday that he is working to secure the basketball player’s release “as soon as possible,” the White House said.