Basketball star LeBron James recently promoted the new season of his TV side hustle – his HBO show called “The Shop.” Remarks he made about Women’s National Basketball Association player Brittney Griner, imprisoned in Russia after pleading guilty to possessing cannabis, have taken some aback.
Cannabis is illegal in Russia.
“How can she feel like America has her back?” James said during the promo, adding, “I would be feeling, ‘do I even want to go back to America?’”
“The Shop” is an unscripted series from HBO Sports in collaboration with James and his longtime business partner, Maverick Carter, and their digital media company, Uninterrupted. The full episode will be released July 15.
After receiving some blowback for his remarks, James later clarified what he had said on Twitter.
“My comments on ‘The Shop’ regarding Brittney Griner weren’t knocking our beautiful country,” the Los Angeles Lakers player tweeted. “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!”
The tweet ended, “Long story short #BringHerHome”
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Griner, a player for the Phoenix Mercury women’s basketball team, has been detained in Russia for more than 120 days. She was arrested at an airport near Moscow in February after Russian authorities said they found vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her bag, The Source reported.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist faces charges that could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, The New York Post reported.
In a handwritten letter sent to the White House, Griner, 31, said she’s “terrified” she may be held in Russian custody “forever.”
“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever.”
Griner continued, “I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you.”
Griner recently appeared before a judge and pleaded guilty to the drug charge. She has not yet been sentenced.
Photo: LeBron James reads “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” screenshot from YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuHzfach9S4