LeBron James has made multiple comments about Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia, but his latest one sparked some controversy. On a 34 second trailer for a new episode of his show “The Shop,” the NBA star questioned how he would feel about returning to the United States if he were in Griner’s situation.
“Over 110 days, now how could she feel like America has her back?” James said. “I would be feeling like, ‘Do I even want to go back to America?'”
That was a clip from part of season five, episode five of the show, which is scheduled to come out on YouTube on July 15. The quote sparked backlash, so much that the Lakers forward — who asked athletes to use their voice to help amplify the severity of Griner’s situation in June — wanted to clarify his message and tried to further explains his thoughts on Twitter.
“My comments on ‘The Shop’ regarding Brittney Griner wasn’t knocking our beautiful country,” James wrote on Tuesday. “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.”
Griner has been detained in Russia since February after customs allegedly found vape cartridges containing hashish oil (marijuana concentrate) in her luggage. She is currently in the middle of trial and has pled guilty to drug charges. For a complete look at the Griner’s situation, read our explainer here.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also shared a comment on Griner’s situation on Tuesday during a Summer League press conference in Las Vegas. A media member asked what the league was doing to help her, and he said that the NBA and WNBA are trying to do everything in their power to help her get back home. He explained that they’ve had multiple extensive discussions with the administration, State Department, her family and her representatives.
Silver also explained that early on, they were given the suggestion to not draw too much attention to Griner because that could increase the demand for her in terms of a possible trade. For now, he felt the administration is doing everything they could in what is clearly a complex situation.
“I know there are very difficult issues that the Biden administration has to face in terms of what’s appropriate to put on the table,” he said. “But it’s my understanding that the family is very satisfied with what they are prepared to do and are trying to do right now. I’m open to suggestions from others.”