Griner confronted by 'provocateur' in Dallas airport – Jamaica Observer

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP)— Women’s NBA star Brittney Griner, freed from a Russian prison last December, and her Phoenix Mercury teammates were confronted by a social media “provocateur” in a Dallas airport on Saturday.
A video clip posting on social media showed a man yelling at Griner as she and her teammates walked past while travelling from a Friday loss at Dallas to a Sunday game at Indiana.
Griner missed all of last season after being arrested at an airport in Moscow in February 2022 for having vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage.
Griner was sentenced to a nine-year prison term but freed as part of a US-Russia prisoner exchange.
She returned to the Mercury and began the 2023 WNBA campaign last month, with Phoenix off to a 1-5 start to the season.
“As we gather additional information about today’s incident at the Dallas Airport, it has come to our attention that this was orchestrated by a social media figure and provocateur,” the WNBA said in a statement. “His actions were inappropriate and unfortunate.
“The safety of Brittney Griner and all WNBA players is our top priority. Prior to the season, the WNBA worked together with the Phoenix Mercury and BG’s team to ensure her safety during her travel, which included charter flights for WNBA games and assigned security personnel with her at all times.
“We remain steadfastly committed to the highest standards of security for players.”
The Mercury were also looking into details of the incident, which appeared to have Griner flying with teammates on a commercial rather than charter flight.
“We are reviewing the incident that took place today at the Dallas airport,” the Mercury said in a statement. “The health and well-being of our players and staff are our top priority and we will always take every step within our power to protect player safety.
“We are committed to our support of BG and advocating for all American hostages abroad. We will continue our support of marginalised communities and fighting the kind of hate that targeted us today.
“No one, regardless of identity, should ever fear for their safety. We will be coordinating with the WNBA on next steps.”
Griner’s Mercury teammate Brianna Turner addressed the incident on social media.
“Player safety while travelling should be at the forefront,” Turner said. “People following with cameras saying wild remarks is never acceptable. Excessive harassment.
“Our team nervously huddled in a corner unsure how to move about. We demand better.”
The league’s players union, the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, joined the call in a statement.
“As we continue to hear from our members throughout the start of the season and particularly today with the situation involving the Phoenix Mercury at the Dallas airport, we are quite clear that the matter of charter travel is NOT a ‘competitive advantage’ issue,” the union said in a statement.
“What BG and all of her Phoenix teammates experienced today was a calculated confrontation that left them feeling very unsafe. Everyone who was paying attention knew this would happen. We could have and should have been more proactive.
“Allowing teams to fly charter is ONLY about player health and safety, and until the league and teams take this issue seriously, situations like this will continue to occur.
“Every commercial flight forced upon our players is a threat to their health and safety. We implore the league and the teams not to wait another day to change the rule regarding travel.”
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