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Brittney Griner’s arrest in Russia has caused panic in the sports world in the United States
Griner was arrested in February at a Moscow airport for allegedly transporting vaping cartridges which Russian authorities believe contained cannabis-derived oils. The arrest was not reported until last weekend and her first Booking photo was not shown until later. 10 years in prison if convicted.
Griner, who plays in the WNBA for the Phoenix Mercury, is like many of her competitors who play overseas when the WNBA is in its offseason. She played for UMMC Ekaterinburg for about seven years alongside other American stars in the women’s basketball.
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Playing overseas in a foreign country comes with its own kind of danger, and the addition of a State Department warning about Americans traveling to Ukraine and the backdrop of a war in Eastern Europe on top of that. of everything creates a chaotic and perilous situation.
“It’s always a danger to play in a foreign country, and then when you mix up an allegation like drugs going through an airport, it’s going to be very messy,” said Dan Lust, a New York-based sports attorney. for Geragos & Geragos, told Fox News Digital. “And then when you add in more of what’s going on between Russia and Ukraine, it’s a whole different element. It’s kind of the perfect storm here .”
Griner is top paid with UMMC Yekaterinburg and has had a ton of success with the team She earns over a million dollars playing overseas which is four times what she and other top stars in the WNBA earn as base salary.
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Lust said no one should blame Griner for trying to make a living.
“You have to be able to make a living, and if 80% or more of your current salary is coming from overseas, you kind of have to. Historically, WNBA players have never really had an offseason. They’ll play in the WNBA, and they’ll get success, and then based on how well they perform in the WNBA, that’s what gets them these giant contracts in different countries.
“So you kind of have to play in both. You have to have American success, because the WNBA is known as a very premier league. Then you kind of have to make your money overseas. UMMC has had some Some of the best players from around the world have been through it: Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird, Dianna Taurasi. So it’s nothing new for this particular team.”
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia makes matters even more murky.
Lust suggested that a third party with business ties to Russia and the United States might be able to help in some way, but said now was “the worst time for something like this to happen”.
The possibility of Griner being used as a political pawn is real.
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“I think there’s definitely potential for that. When somebody’s looking at that kind of potential jail time in America for an American, they can take a plea deal and then maybe they can get a kind of a less severe sentence and still be able to play in their sport. That’s not on the table here,” Lust told Fox News Digital. “Brittney Griner, even if she wanted to, couldn’t really fight the charges in a way that she could in America.”
Griner is one of the biggest stars in men’s or women’s basketball. She is a seven-time WNBA All-Star and a one-time WNBA champion who is set to play her tenth season for the Phoenix Mercury this summer.
Griner also won two Olympic gold medals while playing for Team USA.
She played in Russia almost as long as she played in the WNBA. With UMMC Ekaterinburg, she is a three-time Russian National League champion and a four-time EuroLeague champion. She won a national championship in 2012 with Baylor University.
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She last played for her Russian team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, on January 29 before the league took a two-week break in early February for the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.