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Following Brittney Griner’s Return to the U.S., Some Remain Skeptical About Conditions of Her Return

Photo via the Comeback

It has been over a month since WNBA star and Two Time Olympic Gold Medalist Brittney Griner was released from Russia after spending 294 days detained for allegedly trying to bring vape cartridges through the airport. Griner was freed due to U.S. officials negotiating a prisoner swap which included Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout who had recently been convicted. Although most people are thrilled to have Griner back home safe on U.S. soil, some people are just focusing on the prisoner swap of Griner and Bout and are using it to push their political views.

When looking at Griner’s detainment, the basketball community, especially women in the sport, took a stand to voice their support for Griner during those tough times. Ty Grace, head coach of the Howard University women’s basketball team, feels like her players even saw a little bit of themselves in Griner.

“My players realized a sense of community and togetherness with this situation. They saw all the support BG received. Also, they are part of an uplifting basketball community outside of their college environment. When they see BG, they see themselves, as young women pursuing dreams and playing the game they love. Hopefully, they will never have to experience anything that happened to Brittney Griner,” Grace said.

Griner has been in San Antonio since returning to the U.S., spending time reuniting with her family while getting the necessary medical attention. Still, Griner’s name has continued to swirl around the news, not only because of her welcomed return but also due to the way she was able to get back.

Some people believe it was an uneven trade due to the amount of chaos Viktor Bout is said to be linked to. Even with this, it is hard to scale Griner’s situation with Bout’s, being that she did not ask to be in that position in the first place. 

“I think a lot of politicians and people in power are using this situation to push their own agenda because at the end of the day, there’s nothing really sacred, in the general eye, in politics anymore. People have their family, their personal lives brought up every day when it comes to political issues, and it’s very sad, but it’s a sign of the times, unfortunately,” said Evan Quaintance, a senior political science student attending Howard University.

On the bright side, Griner is said to be back already doing the thing she loves, playing basketball. Although there is no rush to get Griner back on the court professionally with what she’s been through, many are curious what reaction Griner will get and what kind of attention it will bring to women’s basketball.

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Alois Clemons, an adjunct lecturer at Howard University, believes Griner can be a leading force in bringing attention to the continuing issue of WNBA players not receiving enough pay, as it has been argued by many that Griner wouldn’t have been playing in Russia if she felt she was getting compensated for her worth in the U.S.

“I think Brittney is a professional athlete, and she understands the power of her; now she’s even more powerful. She is an icon, and I can tell you when she comes to D.C., I will be there to see her play, and I think a lot of people will be there just to see this young lady when they maybe didn’t have that much interest in women’s basketball prior to that, but now she will have a victory tour that would be second to none,” Clemons said. “This will also shed light on what women athletes have to do to compete and make money on the same athletic field that the men are playing on.”

Brittney Griner. PHOTO: BARRY GOSSAGE/NBAE VIA GETTY

Knowing how long Griner’s name has been in the spotlight as a star player, there is no doubt she will welcome the task of being on the frontlines for change in women’s basketball. However, there’s no rush for her to get back to court, as she puts her mental and physical health first.

Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman

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