Basketball star Brittney Griner landed in the United States early Friday after nearly 10 months of detention in Russia. Griner was freed Thursday in a dramatic prisoner swap between the United States and Russia, with the Biden administration agreeing to free Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms dealer who was serving a 25-year sentence. Griner had been held in Russia since February, when she was arrested at a Moscow airport for possessing a small amount of cannabis oil, and her status as an openly gay Black woman made freeing her from a country with anti-LGBT laws a pressing concern for supporters. But journalist Dave Zirin says the sports world was still slow to rally to Griner’s cause due to sexism, racism and homophobia. “The amount of erasure and deliberate ignoring of Brittney Griner’s case was apparent to anybody who listens to sports radio or watches sports television,” says Zirin, sports editor for The Nation magazine and host of the Edge of Sports podcast. “If it was Steph Curry or Tom Brady imprisoned overseas … the cacophony would have been so loud. Yet with Brittney Griner there was silence.”
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