The women’s basketball star was freed as part of a Russian-American deal
Griner had been serving a nine-year sentence for drug smuggling. © Pavel Pavlov / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
NBA icon LeBron James has praised US President Joe Biden for the prisoner swap deal which saw women’s basketball star Brittney Griner exchanged for Russian businessman Viktor Bout on Thursday.
“I think it’s a great day,” said James as he reacted on the news that Griner had been released from a Russian penal colony.
“For us Americans, I think having BG back, in the sports world, just having her presence back, I know her wife misses her and her family misses her, her club misses her here in Phoenix.
“To have her a part of the basketball brother and sisterhood, once again, it’s a big day for us and what we do.
“Kudos to the president, kudos to Kamala Harris and everyone that had something to do with it,” added James, speaking on an edition of ‘The Shop’.
The LA Lakers star said there were still “a lot of people that’s unlawfully detained right now. We hope we can get them all back.”
It’s a great day. BG is back home 🙌🏾 pic.twitter.com/usELM6FoNS
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) December 9, 2022
Griner was detained at a Moscow airport in February after being found with banned cannabis vape oil cartridges in her luggage.
The 32-year-old had been traveling to play in the Russian league during the WNBA offseason in her homeland – something she has done for the past several years.
Griner admitted carrying the substance, but said it had been unintentional after packing in a hurry for her journey.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in her homeland, was handed a nine-year prison sentence by a Moscow court in August.
After negotiations between Moscow and Washington, Griner was exchanged for Russian businessman Bout in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.