Lakers News: LeBron James Comments On Brittney Griner’s Release From Russian Prison
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers All-Star LeBron James joined countless sports stars in America in calling on the U.S. Government to help release Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner after her imprisonment in Russia. And Griner was finally able to return back home earlier this week after the U.S. agreed to a prisoner swap with Russia.

Griner played for Russian side UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA off-season. In February 2022, she was found in possession of cannabis at a Russian airport, leading to a 9.5-year prison sentence as local law considers cannabis an illegal substance. The U.S. State Department determined the Mercury star had been “wrongfully detained.”

The verdict prompted concerns over Griner’s well-being, particularly as the 32-year-old center was transferred to a penal colony known for harsh treatment of inmates.

But after the news of Griner’s release broke, James rejoiced when “The Shop” collaborated with Amazon on an alternative feed during “Thursday Night Football” again. During the broadcast of the L.A. Rams’ stunning comeback win over the Las Vegas Raiders, James said Griner’s presence in American basketball is crucial for the sport, via ClutchPoints:

I think it’s a great day, you know, for us as Americans having BG back. In the sports world, just having her presence back. Her wife misses her, her family misses her, her club misses her here in Phoenix. To have her a part of the basketball brother-sisterhood once again. It’s a big day for us and what we do. Kudos to the president, kudos to Kamala Harris, and everyone who has something to do with it. Like Mav said, there’s a lot of people that’s unlawfully detained right now — we hope we can get them all back.

Russia released Griner after nearly 300 days in custody thanks to the U.S. Government’s pledge to free arms dealer Viktor Bout in a prisoner exchange. Bout was serving 25 years in prison after being convicted in 2011 on charges of conspiring to kill Americans and providing support to a terrorist organization.

The U.S. didn’t manage to get former Marine Paul Whelan included in the swap, who has been imprisoned in Russia for espionage since 2018.

James compares himself to Tom Brady

In his 20th NBA season, James is averaging 25.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists, remaining one of the top players in the league.

Speaking about maintaining an All-Star level of play late in his career, the soon-to-be 38-year-old compared himself to seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.

“I’m still playing at an extremely high level,” he said. “I’m not out there to f—- around. What would I do that for? Me and (Tom) Brady. We’re the same people. We out there for championships.”

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