Brittney Griner and Mercury teammates confronted at airport by ‘provocateur,’ says WNBA
Brittney Griner and Mercury teammates confronted at airport by 'provocateur,' says WNBA
DALLAS (AP) — Brittney Griner and her Phoenix Mercury teammates were confronted Saturday by a “provocateur” at a Dallas airport.
The WNBA said in a statement that it was investigating the team’s confrontation with a “social media personality” whose “actions were inappropriate and unfortunate.”
“The safety of Brittney Griner and all WNBA players is our top priority,” the league said, without specifying what exactly happened.
Before the season started, the league spoke with Griner’s representatives and the Mercury’s security concerns when the All-Star center traveled for road games after returning from detention in Russia. The idea was that this high-profile case jeopardized his safety and the safety of others. The league granted permission to Griner book their own charter flights.
The WNBA addition of charter flights for the playoffs this season, but only a handful of consecutive regular-season games were scheduled for such flights.
WNBA teams have conducted commercial flights during the regular season since the league’s inception in 1997. The league generally does not allow teams to rent, as it could create a competitive advantage for teams that can afford to pay them.
“Prior to the season, the WNBA worked with the Phoenix Mercury and BG team to ensure their safety during their travel, which included charter flights to WNBA games, and assigned security personnel with them at all times. “, the league press release said. “We remain firmly committed to upholding the highest standards of player safety.”
Brianna Turner, Mercury player said in a tweet people at the airport followed the team with cameras “uttering nonsensical remarks.”
“Excessive harassment,” Turner tweeted. “Our team huddled nervously in a corner, not knowing how to move. We demand better.
A Twitter user posted a video This appears to show part of the confrontation where the individual asks Griner questions about “why does she hate America?”
The Bring Our Families Home campaign, an advocacy group that works to repatriate Americans held hostage or detained in foreign countries, released a statement condemning the incident.
“Approaching a recently returned hostage in this way is unacceptable, and we urge social media companies to ban the monetization of any resulting content.” Our campaign stands with Brittney, her teammates and the Phoenix Mercury,” the organization said.
Griner was warmly received by crowds at home in Phoenix and on the road. Last week, she played two games in her home state of Texas, and the team was headed to Indianapolis to face the Fever on Sunday.
Still, Saturday’s incident has many people calling for a change in the flights of the Mercury and teams around the league.
Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said on social media after the incident that she felt all teams should charter flights.
“Brittney Griner and the players of the WNBA are leaders who inspire hope for a better, more inclusive and less divided America,” said Kagawa Colas. “They are celebrated for how their activism inspires positive change. In doing so, they also become targets of hatred, threats and violence. And today’s incident clearly reminds us of this. We cannot celebrate these women and their leadership without also protecting them. The time has now come for charters and reinforced security measures for all stakeholders.
The WNBA players’ union issued a statement Saturday saying the situation at the airport makes it “absolutely clear that the issue of charter travel is NOT about competitive advantage.”
“What BG and all of his PHX teammates experienced today was a calculated confrontation that left them feeling very unsafe,” the WNBPA statement said. “Everyone who was paying attention knew this was going to happen.”
The Mercury released a statement saying the team would work with the league on next steps.
“We are committed to supporting BG and defending all American hostages abroad,” the team’s statement said. “We will continue to support marginalized communities and fight against the type of hatred that targets us today. No one, regardless of their identity, should ever fear for their safety.
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