M.A. VoepelESPN.comJun 10, 2023, 04:32 PM ET4 Minute Learn

Phoenix Mercury heart Brittney Griner and her teammates had been confronted by a Blaze Media YouTube persona in Dallas-Fort Value Worldwide Airport on Saturday morning earlier than flying to Indiana after the staff performed twice in Arlington, Texas, this week.

Alex Stein, a Dallas native who has gained some notoriety for confronting politicians, posted {a photograph} on Twitter saying, “I simply met my favourite WNBA participant. Video coming quickly.” Stein additionally posted a quick clip of him yelling at Griner as she walked by way of the airport.

The league stated Saturday that Griner has been permitted to fly constitution for WNBA video games. It is unclear why she was not doing so Saturday.

“As we collect extra details about at this time’s incident on the Dallas airport, it has come to our consideration that this was orchestrated by a social media determine and provocateur. His actions had been inappropriate and unlucky,” the league stated in a press release. “The protection of Brittney Griner and all WNBA gamers is our high precedence. Previous to the season, the WNBA labored along with the Phoenix Mercury and BG’s staff to make sure her security throughout her journey, which included constitution flights for WNBA video games and assigned safety personnel along with her always. We stay steadfastly dedicated to the best requirements of safety for gamers.”

Late Saturday afternoon, the Mercury additionally launched a press release.

“We’re reviewing the incident that befell at this time on the Dallas airport. The well being and well-being of our gamers and employees are our high precedence and we are going to all the time take each step inside our energy to guard participant security.

“We’re dedicated to our assist of BG and advocating for all American hostages overseas. We are going to proceed our assist of marginalized communities and preventing the form of hate that focused us at this time. Nobody, no matter id, ought to ever worry for his or her security. We will likely be coordinating with the WNBA on subsequent steps.”

Griner’s teammate Brianna Turner stated on social media in regards to the incident: “Participant security whereas touring needs to be on the forefront. Folks following with cameras saying wild remarks isn’t acceptable. Extreme harassment. Our staff nervously huddled in a nook uncertain easy methods to transfer about. We demand higher.”

Griner is taking part in within the WNBA once more this 12 months after lacking all of final season. She was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February 2022 when she was returning to Russia to proceed her abroad basketball season there. Russian customs officers stated they discovered vape canisters with hashish oil in her baggage, which she later acknowledged in courtroom whereas saying she had no felony intent and had packed them in haste.

In August, Griner was sentenced to a nine-year jail time period, however in December was freed by way of a negotiated prisoner change between the USA and Russian governments.

Griner has been warmly welcomed again by crowds at house in Phoenix and on the highway. This week, she returned to her house state of Texas. The Mercury fell to the Dallas Wings on Wednesday and Friday. They subsequent play Sunday in opposition to the Indiana Fever in Indianapolis.

For price causes, the WNBA primarily flies by way of business airways, saying the league as a complete can’t afford constitution flights and that permitting a number of the 12 groups to take action would trigger a aggressive imbalance challenge. The league introduced earlier this 12 months that it’ll have constitution flights for all playoff video games this season and sure regular-season video games which are performed on back-to-back days requiring air journey.

Griner being permitted by the league to constitution for all video games is an exception due to the publicity surrounding her detainment and launch. Nonetheless, her agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, stated she thinks the complete Mercury staff and all groups must constitution flights.

“Brittney Griner and the WNBA gamers are leaders who encourage hope for a greater, extra inclusive and fewer divided America,” Kagawa Colas stated by way of social media. “They’re celebrated for the methods their activism evokes constructive change. In doing that, additionally they change into targets for hate, threats and violence.

“And at this time’s incident is a transparent reminder of that. We can’t have fun these ladies and their management with out additionally defending them. It is previous time for charters and enhanced safety measures for all gamers.”

The topic of Griner’s security throughout journey was extensively mentioned previous to the season. The Mercury and the WNBA stated plans had been formulated for the staff’s journeys, which included safety. Chatting with media on opening evening, Could 19, in Los Angeles, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert stated that technique could be revisited all through the season to ensure it was assembly Griner’s and the staff’s wants.

“We now have the journey plan set for the 20 away video games,” Engelbert stated. “We now have a set safety plan now, however clearly we’ve to be agile with that. It is actually necessary that we consider it periodically. The Phoenix Mercury are going to guide on that.”

The gamers’ union — the WNBPA — stated in a press release Saturday that the Dallas incident is extra proof that charters are wanted for groups all through the WNBA season. Nonetheless, journey lodging are a part of the WNBA’s collective bargaining settlement most just lately agreed to in 2020.

“As we proceed to listen to from our members all through the beginning of the season and significantly at this time with the scenario involving the Phoenix Mercury on the Dallas airport, we’re fairly clear that the matter of constitution journey is NOT a ‘aggressive benefit’ challenge,” the union stated. “We can’t assist however surprise if the league and groups preclude extra affordable and versatile guidelines relating to constitution journey in 2023 so as to search leverage on this challenge on the bargaining desk.

“What BG and all of her Phoenix teammates skilled at this time was a calculated confrontation that left them feeling very unsafe. Everybody who was paying consideration knew this could occur. We might have and may have been extra proactive.

“Permitting groups to fly constitution is ONLY about participant well being and security, and till the league and groups take this challenge significantly, conditions like this can proceed to happen. Each business flight pressured upon our gamers is a menace to their well being and security. We implore the league and the groups to not wait one other day to alter the rule relating to journey.”