At a Dallas airport on Saturday, Brittney Griner and her Phoenix Mercury teammates were confronted by a “provocateur.”WNBA officials said in a statement they were investigating the team’s run-in with a “social media figure” whose actions were “inappropriate and unfortunate.”
“The safety of Brittney Griner and all WNBA players is our top priority,” the league said.
As soon as Griner returned from her detainment in Russia, the league discussed security concerns with her representatives and Mercury representatives before the season started. According to the league, the highly publicized case compromised her safety and other players’ safety. The league gave Griner the right to book her own charter flights.
Charter flights were added to the WNBA’s playoff schedule this season, but only a few back-to-back regular-season games were scheduled.
There has been commercial air travel between WNBA teams during the regular season since the league started in 1997. The league generally does not allow teams to charter because it could give teams who can afford it a competitive advantage.
BG’s team and the Phoenix Mercury worked together prior to the season to make sure her safety during travel, including charter flights for WNBA games and security personnel assigned to her at all times, according to the league. “We remain steadfastly committed to the highest standards of player security.”
Brianna Turner, a Mercury player, tweeted that people at the airport followed the team with cameras “making wild remarks.”
“Excessive harassment,” Turner tweeted. “Our team huddled in a corner, unsure how to proceed. We demand better.”
Twitter user posted a video that appears to show a part of the confrontation where Griner is asked “why she hates America?”
In a statement, the Bring Our Families Home Campaign, which seeks to bring home Americans held hostage or detained abroad, condemned the incident.
Taking a recently returned hostage like this is unacceptable, and we urge social media companies not to monetize any content resulting from it. Our Campaign stands with Brittney, her teammates, and the Phoenix Mercury.”
This past week, Griner played two games in her home state of Texas, and the team was headed to Indianapolis to take on the Fever.
However, the incident on Saturday left many calling for a change in flights for the Mercury and other teams in the league.
Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner’s agent, said on social media after the incident that all teams should charter flights.
As Kagawa Colas said, Britney Griner and the WNBA players are role models who inspire a more inclusive, less divided America. Although their activism inspires positive change, it also makes them targets of hate, threats, and violence. And today’s incident is a clear reminder of that. We cannot celebrate these women without also protecting them. Charters and enhanced security measures are long overdue for all players.”
The WNBA players’ union said Saturday that the situation at the airport shows charter travel is not a matter of “competitive advantage.”
“BG and all of her PHX teammates experienced a calculated confrontation today,” the WNBPA statement reads. “Everyone who was paying attention knew this would happen.”
According to the Mercury, the team will work with the league on next steps.
According to the WNBPA statement, “BG and all of her PHX teammates experienced a calculated confrontation that left them feeling very unsafe.”
According to a Mercury statement, the team will work with the league on next steps.
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