The WNBA has confirmed that WNBA star Brittney Griner was the target of “inappropriate and unfortunate” actions by a “social media figure and provocateur” at the Dallas airport on Saturday. Brittney’s agent is calling for “enhanced security measures” for all WNBA players. Find out what happened and see how the WNBA has responded inside…
In a distressing incident at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, WNBA star Brittney Griner and her Phoenix Mercury teammates found themselves face-to-face with a right-wing YouTube personality who harassed them as they made their way through the airport. The Mercury players were en route to Indianapolis via commercial flight, according to a spokesperson from Griner’s talent agency.
Alex Stein, known for his confrontational style and inflammatory encounters with politicians, took to Twitter to boast about his encounter with the renowned basketball center. Alex, a Dallas native and self-proclaimed troll, posted a tweet hinting at a forthcoming video documenting his interaction with Brittney.
I just met my favorite WNBA Player Brittney Griner
Video coming soon pic.twitter.com/h6BKy6kGAy
— Alex Stein #99 (@alexstein99) June 10, 2023
”I just met my favorite WNBA player. Video coming soon,” he wrote, clearly relishing in the attention.
Later, he uploaded a brief clip showing him aggressively questioning Brittney as she made her way through the airport. Promising a longer version of the video to be released on Sunday morning, Alex can be heard taunting the WNBA star with statements like, “Do you still wanna boycott America, Brittney?”
Since the @WNBA is writing press releases about me…here is a snippet of my interaction with Brittney Griner today….
— Alex Stein #99 (@alexstein99) June 10, 2023
Brittney, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was freed from Russian custody in a prisoner swap involving Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, nicknamed the “Merchant of Death.” The incident prompted criticism, particularly from some Republicans, regarding the release of a potentially dangerous prisoner back to Russia.
Don’t get the whole Alex Stein schtick. He’s not funny.
Has nothing to do w/politics.
Some idiots are hilarious. He’s an idiot but he’s not funny. And for a large segment to be calling him a hero? Talk about low standards.
File this under the dumbing down of America
— Coach Tito (@DCUBALLERS) June 10, 2023
The WNBA released a statement acknowledging that the encounter was orchestrated by a social media figure and provocateur, deeming his actions inappropriate and unfortunate. Safety measures had been implemented before the season began to ensure Brittney’s security during travel, including charter flights for WNBA games and assigned security personnel. However, it remains unclear whether she was on a charter flight when the incident occurred.
— WNBA (@WNBA) June 10, 2023
“As we gather additional information about today’s incident at the Dallas Airport, it has come to our attention that this was orchestrated by a social media figure and provocateur,” the WNBA said. “His actions were inappropriate and unfortunate.”
“Prior to the season, the WNBA worked together with the Phoenix Mercury and BG’s team to ensure her safety during her travel, which included charter flights for WNBA games and assigned security personnel with her at all times. We remain steadfastly committed to the highest standards of security for players.”
The Phoenix Mercury, Griner’s team, expressed their concern and commitment to player safety, promising to review the incident and coordinate with the WNBA on future steps.
The Phoenix Mercury released the following statement: pic.twitter.com/w0Wu0ZHfla
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) June 10, 2023
Sports journalist Jemele Hill called Alex out on Twitter for being an “a**hole.”
You are a whole ass, unadulterated clown. https://t.co/DwKve0cIUn
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 10, 2023
Brittney’s teammate, Brianna Turner, took to Twitter to emphasize the importance of player safety while traveling and demanded better treatment, expressing frustration at excessive harassment.
Player safety while traveling should be at the forefront. People following with cameras saying wild remarks is never acceptable. Excessive harassment. Our team nervously huddled in a corner unsure how to move about. We demand better.
— Brianna Turner (@_Breezy_Briii) June 10, 2023
“Player safety while traveling should be at the forefront,” she tweeted. “People following with cameras saying wild remarks is never acceptable. Excessive harassment. Our team nervously huddled in a corner unsure how to move about. We demand better.”
Unlike the NBA, WNBA teams are not currently allowed to use charter planes for travel. However, in April, the league announced plans to expand its charter flights program for postseason and select regular-season games with back-to-back schedules.
Brittney’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, highlighted the need for increased protection for WNBA players, acknowledging the challenges they face as leaders who inspire positive change.
and today’s incident is a clear reminder of that.
We cannot celebrate these women and their leadership without also protecting them.
It’s past time for charters and enhanced security measures for all players. #WeAreBG
— Lindsay Kagawa Colas (she/her) (@kagawacolas) June 10, 2023
“Brittney Griner and the @WNBA players are leaders who inspire hope for a better, more inclusive and less divided America. They are celebrated for the ways their activism inspires positive change. In doing that, they also become targets for hate, threats and violence,” Colas said. “And today’s incident is a clear reminder of that. We cannot celebrate these women and their leadership without also protecting them. It’s past time for charters and enhanced security measures for all players. #WeAreBG”
The union representing WNBA players also called for enhanced security measures and emphasized that charter travel is not merely a competitive advantage but a matter of player safety.
— WNBPA (@TheWNBPA) June 10, 2023
As this incident serves as a sobering reminder of the safety concerns faced by WNBA players, it calls for urgent action to provide them with the necessary protection and security during their travels!
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez