September 21, 2023

Brittney Griner’s Dallas Airport Harassment Detailed In Police Report, Mercury Promises ‘Adjustments’

More details have emerged about the harassment Brittney Griner faced last week from a conservative YouTube personality, an incident that has led to a promise of “adjustments” from the Phoenix Mercury.

According to a police report obtained by ESPN, the man described by the WNBA as a “provocateur” approached Griner as her team was walking through a concourse at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Saturday morning. The team traveled to Indiana for a Sunday game after facing the Dallas Wings twice in Griner’s home state of Texas.

A Mercury security guard remained between Griner and the YouTuber, who attempted to force his way to the All-Star as he made a series of offensive statements to her. He asked her, among other things, if the US had made a fair trade in exchanging her for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, asked if she had sex with Russian President Vladimir Putin to get out of prison, and claimed that she disliked America.

Griner ignored him during the tirade, as the guard reportedly shoved him against a wall in the hall. Griner reportedly waited behind a gate for officers to arrive, after which they were unable to find the man.

Griner’s Mercury teammate Brianna Turner described a similar scene that morning, calling it “excessive harassment”.

The guard reportedly refused to press charges against the man when asked by police.

The incident reportedly took place in Terminal A of DFW, American Airlines’ exclusive terminal. The man, who apparently did not have an American Airlines ticket, reportedly left via the Skylink train for terminals B and D.

How was Brittney Griner so open to this kind of harassment?

Griner’s return from her 10-month incarceration in Russian prison and her decision to continue playing basketball complicated an already tricky situation for the WNBA.

Players have asked the league to allow them to travel via charter flights for years, an idea the league has consistently rejected and banned for being too expensive. Some teams have indicated they are willing to pay for it and have received penalties for doing so, but the league sees it as an unfair advantage. However, the politicization of Griner’s situation created a clear security risk if she had to travel through public airport terminals.

Last weekend’s incident made that risk real, sparking a blame game of sorts between the Mercury and the WNBA.

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner during the first half of a WNBA basketball basketball game against the Dallas Wings in Arlington, Texas, Friday, June 9, 2023. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Brittney Griner’s harassment in Dallas was extremely predictable. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The WNBA said in a statement Saturday that it was working with the Mercury “and the team at BG to ensure her safety during her journey, including charter flights for WNBA games and assigned security personnel at all times.” It also issued a statement to the Wall Street Journal saying, “We briefed the Phoenix Mercury earlier this year to proceed with whatever arrangements they felt were appropriate and necessary, including charter flights.”

However, Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard said on Sunday that they received travel guidelines from the WNBA and were following them, while Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas told the WSJ that the league was not approving charter flights for the entire 2023 season.

The WNBA followed that up on Sunday by telling ESPN that there “may have been uncertainty” about whether the Mercury would be allowed to pay for all charters, adding that they were allowed to:

“Given her special situation, the WNBA has approved charter flights for BG for the 2023 season,” a league spokesman said. “We informed the Phoenix Mercury earlier this year to proceed with whatever arrangements they felt were appropriate and necessary, including charter flights.”

Whatever the Mercury may or may not do, the end result was one of the country’s most recognizable and talked about athletes walking with one person through an extremely busy airport terminal to protect her from any trolls trying to attract attention. Nygaard said on Sunday the organization will “make adjustments that may have been made sooner,” per ESPN, but it’s a wonder how this level of security was allowed to be the foundation.

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