‘Is it true you had to have sex with Vladimir Putin?’: Airport heckler mocks Brittney Griner and asks if her release from Russian prison ‘was a fair trade for the Merchant of Death?’
- Brittney Griner was heckled by YouTuber Alex Stein in Dallas on Saturday
- The Phoenix Mercury have now confirmed they will make ‘travel adjustments’
- DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news
Brittney Griner was asked by a DFW Airport heckler if she ‘had to have sex with Vladimir Putin’ to secure her release from Russia in the wake of her drug smuggling conviction last year.
The WNBA star spent close to 10 months locked up in Mordovia, before she was brought back to America in a controversial prisoner swap with Viktor Bout – commonly known as ‘The Merchant of Death’.
The reaction from the American public hasn’t been overwhelmingly positive after Griner’s return, given her previous comments about boycotting the national anthem – only to flip her opinion when she returned after her imprisonment in Russia.
That led to conservative YouTuber Alex Stein filming Griner at Dallas Airport and attempting to ask her questions, which were met with silence by the WNBA star.
In the full clip, released on Sunday, Stein can be heard saying: ‘Was that a fair trade for the Merchant of Death? I know you kill it on the court, but he kills it in real life.
Brittney Griner was asked if she had sex with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Saturday
Griner was heckled at the airport in Dallas as she and her teammates walked to their plane
Griner was back on the court on Sunday as the Phoenix Mercury beat the Indiana Fever
‘Is it true you had to have sex with Vladimir Putin to get released from Russia? Brit? What about his wife?’
The incident has led to Phoenix Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard confirming the team will make travel adjustments to upcoming road games to avoid similar situations going forward.
Although she declined to reveal further details about the amendment to their travel plans, Nygaard did cite safety concerns.
The coach didn’t like what transpired at the airport as the Mercury were leaving Dallas to get to Sunday’s road game against the Indiana Fever.
‘No one should be a victim of targeted harassment,’ Nygaard said before the game. ‘I’m grateful that our team and our staff are physically OK.
‘Most of all, I’m grateful that BG has been back here in the United States for 185 days now. If her being home makes some people mad, I think that obviously says more about them than it does about her.’
The Mercury traveling party was eventually escorted into a room at the airport to get away from the heckling.
‘That’s obviously nothing no one wants to deal with, especially on a business trip for work,’ Phoenix center Brianna Turner said. ‘We’re representing the league, we’re representing the city of Phoenix, our organization and in times like that we don’t want to cause a big scene.
Griner is pictured putting her bag through a scanner after she was approached by a sniffer dog at Moscow airport in February 2022
Griner spent nearly 10 months in a Russian penal colony for drug smuggling last year
She was involved in a high-profile prisoner swap with ‘Merchant of Death’ Viktor Bout (above)
‘We don’t to like throw phones or say some things. I guess the lesson is you live and learn but I don’t know what you do if it happens again.’
While the WNBA said it has been working to keep Griner and all the players safe, the players union said Saturday that the league needs to do a better job of providing charter flights.
New York Liberty star Breanna Stewart, who is a member of the union’s executive committee, is all for Griner flying however she wants.
‘I think that, you know, that there needs to be extra precautionary measures taken and you know, I don’t think anyone is against BG having charter flights whenever she wants, so that she can be herself and travel and be comfortable and be safe,’ Stewart said. ‘Because that’s the last thing we want is what happened yesterday.’
Griner scored 29 points as the Mercury posted an 85-82 win over the Fever on Sunday.