NBA rumors: Brittney Griner undergoing prisoner reintegration program

WNBA star Brittney Griner — who was freed Thursday from a Russian prison in a controversial and high-profile prisoner swap — is back in the United States at an Army medical facility in San Antonio where she is undergoing a freed prisoner reintegration program. The basketball superstar is now at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where she’s expected to undergo “extensive health evaluation” and be screened for things like anemia, electrolyte imbalances, infections and any injuries sustained while in Russian custody, according to San Antonio station KENS5.

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Texas Congressman August Pfluger, who worked to get Reed released — after he has spent two years in prison following an arrest for being drunk — previously told The Post how Reed underwent a US government program for captured, missing or isolated Americans returning from hostile environments called Post-isolation Support Activities – which is likely to also be the case for Griner. “The reintegration process includes the recovery of (an American) then subsequently returning them to society, their medical treatment, reintroduction to their families, and provides decompression time while also conserving any intelligence they may have been able to gather to aid in the prosecution of these criminal organizations,” according to the FBI.
Sports Illustrated: “Shoutout to President Biden and his administration, and all the athletes, activists, people who used their platform to speak on her behalf.” Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) shared his thoughts about Brittney Griner’s release from Russia ahead of the #SIAwards
ClutchPoints: “I think it's a great day... To have her a part of the basketball brother and sisterhood once again, it's a big day for us." @KingJames on Brittney Griner's release from prison today (via @NFLonPrime)
Adebayo was able to get to know Griner during their time together at the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2021. Adebayo won his first Olympic gold medal with Team USA’s men’s basketball team and Griner won her second Olympic gold medal with Team USA’s women’s basketball team in Tokyo. “Just from knowing her from the Olympics, she’s such a sweet girl,” Adebayo said. “She doesn’t bother anybody, minds her own business, stays in her own lane. I’m really happy that she gets to come back and see her family and just be back in her own bed. I feel like it’s going to be hard for her to get readjusted with the world. Because obviously, none of us have no idea what she was going through. When she gets back over and hopefully she tells her story one day, I feel like that would be a great story for people to hear.”
Video released by Russian state media shows a first-hand view of WNBA star Brittney Griner being swapped for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout on the tarmac of an airport in the United Arab Emirates. The “Merchant of Death” can be seen embracing his Russian countrymen after being freed from federal custody hours earlier. The footage, apparently shot from a waiting Russian aircraft, shows Bout and another man walking away from an unmarked passenger jet, towards a group of people that includes Griner and three men in suits.
The six-foot-nine WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist is shown in line for food, dining with another prisoner, and making a very narrow, very short bed. Footage also showed Griner with her short hair placed in a white wrap doing some sort of work at the penal colony, with that footage dated November 28 - a day before another video showed Griner signing papers to be released.  The video released after the swap paints a stark picture to the conditions in Russian penal colonies that have been described as horrific, with prisoners being overworked and kept in 'slave-like conditions.' 
WNBA star Brittney Griner has been released from Russian detention and is on her way back to the United States, President Biden announced Thursday. Moscow released the athlete in a swap for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, according to two senior administration officials and a separate statement from Russia’s foreign ministry. President Biden approved the release of Bout, commuting his 25-year prison sentence, one of the U.S. officials said.
Griner had been in Russian custody since her arrest at an airport near Moscow in February, when she was accused of entering with vape cartridges containing less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage, which is illegal there. Her lawyers said it was prescribed as part of treatment for chronic pain and other conditions.
Here’s what to know * Biden said Griner will be on U.S. soil “within 24 hours” and thanked administration officials and the United Arab Emirates for helping facilitate Griner’s return. “This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time,” he said. * Biden stressed he had not forgotten about Paul Whelan, a former Marine imprisoned in Russia for espionage.
WNBA star Brittney Griner has been moved to a Russian forced labor camp, months after the basketball player was arrested in Russia for allegedly possessing cannabis oil. The development is the latest update after Griner’s appeal of her 9-year sentence was denied by a Russian court last month. The White House released a statement early Wednesday morning condemning the move.
“Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in the statement.  “As the Administration continues to work tirelessly to secure her release, the President has directed the Administration to prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony,” the statement continued.
Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle, described their most recent phone call from detention in Russia as “disturbing.” Cherelle and Brittney have spoken twice by phone since the Russians detained Brittney for bringing vape cartridges through a Moscow airport. The first was in August and left Cherelle feeling positive. But the second had a chilling effect, she said during an interview on CBS News that aired on Thursday.
Brittney Griner sits in a Russian jail cell, trapped in a legal system with few protections. Her case, along with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, has prompted the State Department to issue stern warnings urging Americans not to travel to Russia.  Yet dozens of American basketball players are still planning to play in Russia this season.  USA TODAY Sports has identified at least 31 men and one woman who are expected to play – with the signings confirmed by either the player's representation or the team itself – in Russia’s top professional league, a development that several basketball executives and global security experts view as highly risky considering the ongoing tensions between the American and Russian governments.
“I think we should be boycotting the place. It’s not right," said NBA agent Aaron Goodwin, who told USA TODAY Sports he promptly alerted the NBA Players’ Association and Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, once Russian teams and agents contacted him this summer while trying to sign one of his clients. The NBPA and Colas had no comment on the signings. The WNBPA did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story. “We shouldn’t support it no matter how much money it is," Goodwin said. “To sign new deals is totally disrespectful to Brittney Griner and to USA women’s basketball.”
“Let’s be honest — the U.S. is at war with Russia right now,” said Mike Cound, a player agent who represents more than 60 women who play professionally around the world. “This is not the time to go to Russia.” At the beginning of the WNBA season, Cound surveyed his players and posed a hypothetical question: If he had a “nice offer” from a team in Russia, would anyone be interested in playing there? Only one player, Cound said, suggested that it might depend on how much money was being offered. The rest immediately said no.
In the VladTV clip below, former NBA star guard Gilbert Arenas and Vlad further discussed the Brittney Griner situation and how she’s the only top-tier WNBA player who makes her off-season money playing ball in Russia. They then compared her to someone like Stephon Marbury who was a top player but never the best NBA player and cultivated a huge following when he went to China, similar to what Brittney has done in Russia:
The Worm had mentioned he ‘got permission to go to Russia’ but did not specify the source of the permission. Apparently, it was not the government of his country. “He would not be traveling on behalf of the U.S. government,” clarified State Department spokesperson Ned Price, “We believe that anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder those release efforts.” Price, 39, also mentioned the ‘very clear guidance to American citizens’ on currently implemented travel restrictions to Russia.
Sirius XM NBA: A Moscow court sentenced WNBA Star Brittney Griner to 9 years in jail. @JumpsShot8 tells @Rick Kamla how much it bothers him #WeAreBG #BringBrittneyHome
As Brittney Griner returned to court in Russia on Tuesday for her drawn-out trial on drug charges, the American basketball star told ABC News she has a message for her wife, Cherelle, who recently graduated from law school. "Good luck on the bar exam," Griner said. Griner briefly spoke to ABC News during a break in Tuesday's proceedings at a courthouse in the Moscow suburb of Khimki. When asked whether she has any complaints, she said: "No, no complaints. Just waiting patiently." She arrived in court that morning holding up two photographs in a clear, plastic sleeve. When asked during the break who was in the photos, she told ABC News: "My wife. My two best friends, my teammates."
New York Liberty forward Jocelyn Willoughby said listening to Griner's team and family dictates how the rest of the league acts.  "When they move," Willoughby told USA TODAY Sports, "we move."  "I think there’s been conversation and more people bringing awareness to the situation," said Willoughby, who attended the mural unveiling ceremony last Wednesday. "At this point, we don’t know what’s going to be the needle that breaks the camel’s back.
Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud assisted in pasting Griner's portrait to the mural. "You walk up there and feel nothing but sadness because it’s just a slap of reality," Cloud told USA TODAY Sports. "This season doesn’t feel the same without her. It’s constantly in the back of our heads that we are missing one member of our family." Griner’s trial continues Tuesday outside Moscow.
LeBron James: My comments on “The Shop” regarding Brittney Griner wasn’t knocking our beautiful country. I was simply saying how she’s probably feeling emotionally along with so many other emotions, thoughts, etc inside that cage she’s been in for over 100+ days! Long story short #BringHerHome
A court in Russia has extended the pre-trial detention for WNBA star Brittney Griner. Griner, who was detained in February, will remain in custody at least through July 2, according to Russian state media outlet TASS.
Her detention was extended for another 18 days at "the request of the investigation," according to a representative from the Khimki Court of the Moscow Region, per TASS.
State Department officials met Monday with representatives of Brittney Griner's WNBA team about the Phoenix Mercury star's monthslong detention in Russia and the Biden administration's efforts to secure her release. The State Department confirmed the meeting, which involved officials from its specialized office that advocates for hostages and wrongfully detained Americans, but offered no additional details about what was said or who specifically attended.
Before Game 1 of the Finals, Silver announced that the NBA would be working with the U.S. government to try to “expedite” her case to bring her home as soon as possible. Silver explained Wednesday how the NBA got involved with Griner’s case. “Well, actually, what spurred us, you used the words ‘wrongfully detained,’ and so that is an official designation used by the U.S. government,” Silver said. “Initially, when she was detained, even though we all knew what was going on, we were told by the U.S. government to keep it a little bit more as a low-profile issue I think because they were hoping that Russia frankly wouldn’t see her as such a high-value asset, in which they would be looking to get something in return for her.”
Silver added that this official classification is what allowed the NBA to get more involved in the situation. “Clearly now everyone understands how important she is, how well known she is in this country, how important she is in the WNBA,” Silver said. “At this point, I think for all of us, we have to bring as much attention to her case as possible, and get her home safely as quickly as possible.”
LeBron James: We need to come together and help do whatever we possibly can to bring BG home quickly and safely!! 🙏🏾 Our voice as athletes is stronger together. @uninterrupted 👑 #WeAreBG
On Saturday, the Celtics wore black t-shirts with an orange print that reads “WE ARE BG.” Jaylen Brown also spoke about the issue and called for authorities to help Griner be released, highlighting that “enough is enough.” After seeing the Celtics’ gesture, James reposted the video on his Instagram Story and captioned it with “#WEAREBG” as the Lakers star tried to bring more awareness to the issue.
How are you taking the Griner situation? Kristi Tollver: Heavy heart. That’s my buddy. We played together on that team in Russia for four years. So, I’m very familiar with the area. Scary, scary situation. I feel hopeful that she will be released soon as we all are. But I just hope that she’s OK, just mentally, physically, spiritually, whatever. She’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever been around. She’s a big kid. She has a great heart. It’s very unfortunate that she’s in that situation. Very scary situation. When she comes back, she’s going to be ready to be around the team and be ready to play. She’s going to need that. Whatever support she is going to need, we’re going to do it. That’s the homey right there.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday that he is working "side by side" with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert to try to bring Brittney Griner home. Silver, speaking to ESPN's Malika Andrews in a televised interview from Chicago prior to the NBA draft lottery, said his league was following the advice of experts when it did not take an aggressive approach during the early stages of Griner's detention in Russia. "We've been in touch with the White House, the State Department, hostage negotiators, every level of government and also through the private sector as well," Silver said. "Our No. 1 priority is her health and safety and making sure that she gets out of Russia."
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to the wife of detained American Brittney Griner on Saturday as the WNBA star's imprisonment in Russia continues. According to a senior State Department official, the top US diplomat told Cherelle Griner that her wife's release is a top priority for the department and has his full attention. Blinken said the State Department is working on the case day and night, and that Cherelle Griner should not to hesitate to reach out if there's anything she is not getting.
On Monday, US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan said Russia had denied the embassy permission to visit her for the third time in a month. "This is unacceptable. We call on @mfa_russia to provide timely consular access, in line with Russia's intl & bilateral obligations," Sullivan said in a tweet posted by the embassy.
Brittney Griner will remain in custody in Russia for at least another month ... a judge just denied her request for house arrest, forcing her to stay in jail for another 30 days. The 31-year-old WNBA superstar appeared in a Russian courtroom on Friday morning with the hopes of getting out of jail ... but her attorney told the Associated Press that did not happen. The attorney, Alexander Boikov, did say, though, that because of the short nature of the custody extension ... he did believe a trial in Griner's case might be coming soon. Griner wore an orange sweatshirt to Friday's hearing, and left the courtroom with a hood up over her head. In photos of her leaving her appearance, you can see she was wearing cuffs on her wrists.
The Suns will honor Mercury star Brittney Griner on their home court for the remainder of the playoffs.  When Phoenix hosts Dallas in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals on Tuesday, the Footprint Center will feature Griner’s initials and her No. 42 on the sides of the court.
The release of Trevor R. Reed, a former Marine, as part of a prisoner exchange with Russia on Wednesday brought fresh attention to the cases of other Americans who are still detained in Russia, including the W.N.B.A. star Brittney Griner and another former Marine, Paul Whelan. In a briefing to reporters on Wednesday, American officials said that the administration remained focused on the release of Ms. Griner and Mr. Whelan. But some observers noticed that in a statement after Mr. Reed’s release, President Biden had mentioned Mr. Whelan but not Ms. Griner.
Cherelle T. Griner, Ms. Griner’s wife, posted on Instagram on Wednesday that her heart was “overflowing with joy” for the Reed family. She added, “I do know the pain of having your loved one detained in a foreign country.” Mr. Whelan was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison in Russia on espionage charges, which he has denied. On Wednesday, Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Mr. Whelan, wrote on Twitter, “It’s amazing to see hostages come home, but oh so very hard on those left behind.”
Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner was reportedly arrested at an airport in Moscow more than three weeks ago after the WNBA player was allegedly found with hashish oil vape cartridges in her luggage. On Tuesday, Russian State TV revealed the first image of the detained Griner, in a video shared by CNN.
CNN: Russian state TV has released a photo of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was arrested on drug charges in the country after Russian officials say cannabis oil was found in her luggage. CNN's @RosaFlores has the story.
WNBA star Brittney Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested in February in Russia on drug smuggling charges and could be facing 5-10 years in prison in the country, per Russian news outlet Interfax. Griner was spending the offseason playing in the Euroleague and was heading to Moscow from New York last month before officials found vape cartridges in her luggage, which are illegal in Russia. A drug-sniffing dog ultimately found cannabis oil, aka weed, in her bag and later identified her as a WNBA player. There has been no indication that Brittany Griner has been released.
The 31-year-old hasn’t posted on Instagram since February 5th, which is concerning in itself. The Mercury have yet to comment on the situation, but it must be extremely scary for Griner, who is stuck in a foreign country in custody. Griner has actually been playing in the WNBA offseason in Russia for Ekaterinburg since 2015 without running into any issues. Here is the statement from Russian officials: “As a U.S. citizen was passing through the green channel at Sheremetyevo Airport upon arriving from New York, a working dog from the Sheremetyevo Customs canine department detected the possible presence of narcotic substances in the accompanying luggage,” the Russian Federal Customs Service said in a statement. “The customs inspection of the hand luggage being carried by the U.S. citizen confirmed the presence of vapes with specifically-smelling liquid, and an expert determined that the liquid was cannabis oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance.”
The Customs Service released a video of a traveler at the airport who appeared to be Griner, wearing a mask and black sweatshirt, going through security. The video showed an individual removing a package from the traveler’s bag. According to the statement, a criminal case has been opened into the large-scale transportation of drugs, which can carry a sentence of up to 10 years behind bars in Russia. The basketball player was taken into custody while the investigation was ongoing, the officials said.
In a statement, the Mercury said: “We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia. We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the W.N.B.A. and N.B.A. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.” The W.N.B.A. said in a statement that Griner “has the W.N.B.A.’s full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States.”
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