In a clip released Friday (March 25), former WNBA player for The Los Angeles Sparks, Lisa Leslie, sat down with the “I am Athlete” podcast and stated that members of the WNBA were instructed “not to make a big fuss” about the Brittney Griner situation.
“What we were told, and again, this is all sort of passed along through hearsay, but what we were told was to not make a big fuss about it so that they could not use her as a pawn, so to speak, in this situation in the war,” Leslie can be seen saying in a video teaser.
In February, professional American basketball player Griner was detained in Russia for traveling with a vape cartridge that contained hash oil, a concentrated cannabis extract — however, news of the arrest was not made public until March 5. The consequences of her actions could mean that Griner has to face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Griner is a member of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, but in the offseason, she plays for UMMC Ekaterinburg, a Russian women’s basketball team which is more than likely the reason she was in the country at the time.
With limited access to Griner during a highly publicized war, many were relieved when news broke on March 23 that Griner was “in good condition.” The report came from Ned Price, a spokesperson for the United States government.
Leslie, who now serves as the head coach for Triplets in the BIG3 professional basketball league, went on to say, “Do we know if that’s the right thing to do or not? It’s heartbreaking for all of us. That’s the feelings of it. You want to do more, and think, should we all use our social media platform and get behind it or not? Nobody really [knows]. This is the first time we’re in this situation, and we don’t know what to do … We’ve had full-on conversations about it, and I’m like, ‘‘Her parents got to be sick.’ What’s the right thing to do about it?”
The full interview will be released on Monday.