Brittney Griner (Wikipedia photo)

Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury basketball team has fouled out; this time, it may be for good.

The W.N.B.A. star is being held in a Russian jail. She’s been there since February after being found with drugs at a Moscow airport. On Thursday, the long, lanky, warrior-like Amazonian woman—she dwarfs nearly everyone at a towering 6 foot 9—pleaded guilty to minor drug charges in a Russian courtroom. She faces a maximum sentence of 10 years. Support is strong for Griner in many circles and reaches all the way to the White House—President Biden spoke with Griner’s wife Cherelle this past week. However, many people, including me, are a bit reluctant to join the chorus of folks screaming, marching and yelling for her immediate release and freedom. Was she clueless about Russia’s strict, zero-tolerance drug laws?

Brittney Griner (Wikipedia photo)

In her brief statement to the court, Griner said she had no intention of breaking Russian law and she claimed the packing of the {cannabis hash-laden vapes} in her luggage was “an accident” and she “packed in a hurry.” Hum, those feeble excuses sounds like what someone says when a cop stops you on the highway, and asks how much you had to drink, and you say, “I only had two beers!” Or, when a bartender refuses to serve you because you had too much to drink, you say, “I’ll sober up after I get behind the wheel.”

But I digress. I saw a YouTube video highlighting rapper Snoop Dogg’s concert in Russia in 2013. In a recent interview, one of Doggs band members said the entire entourage, including Snoop, was well aware and overly cautious about carrying any illegal drugs while in Russia. By most accounts, Snoop Dogg and a phat and perfectly rolled joint are one in the same. https://youtu.be/1qrevohddZQ However, even back then, the rapper and his team were well aware of the zero-tolerance drug laws in Putin’s country Russia. They put their weed-smoking, vaping, and bong-hitting habits on a temporary hold. I wonder why Griner didn’t do the same thing? Like thousands of other folks, I’m stunned and amazed the basketball superstar was so careless, reckless, and foolish to put herself in such a dangerous situation.

Lastly, some legal experts contend that Griner pleading guilty is good and that the plea may expedite a positive outcome. For example, by making the guilty plea, she indirectly asks the court for mercy. The “I did it” statement expedites Griner’s case and subsequent sentencing quicker and perhaps more negotiable. For example, the possibility of a prisoner swap between Griner and a Russian detainee here in the U.S. may be possible and made more manageable by the U.S. State Department and other government entities involved in the high-profile and media-saturated story. At any rate, I hope the basketball eventually bounces again for Griner; however, for the time being, she’ll remain on the Russian bench.

Glenn Townes

I'm an award winning journalist based in Edison, NJ. My work has been featured in dozens of publications including, Black Enterprise magazine; ESSENCE magazine and Real Health magazine. I am also a featured...

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