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Swap for Brittney Griner Opens Conversation About Incarcerated Americans

LaVar Arrington, Plaxico Burress, and TJ Houshmandzadeh tackle the highly complex case of WNBA star Brittney Griner. Griner was freed to return to the United States in a prisoner swap between the USA and Russia, which allowed infamous arms dealer Viktor Bout, dubbed the "merchant of death," to be put in Russia's custody.

Brittney Griner was caught up in a difficult situation in Russia where she was held for about 9 months due to having possession of contraband deemed highly punishable in Russia when in contrast, the United States likely wouldn't even bother to convict depending on which state you were located in. In comparison, Viktor Bout had conspiring to kill Americans, acquiring and export anti-aircraft missiles, providing material support to a terrorist organization as his crimes. Bout was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years, of which he did 14 until he was released to Russia this past week.

Plaxico Burress is of the belief that this changes the game of playing basketball overseas and calls for more people to have better support of female athletes in hopes they never have to increase their net worth by playing abroad, especially in Russia.

"It kinda made me think about the whole situation with Brittney Griner and why they go overseas to play basketball is because guys like myself and the fanbase really don't support them in the way that they should be supported in the sport that they play...I just hope moving forward that, we get out and support these young women doing what they love IN AMERICA. I don't see how any American female or woman would travel overseas or Russia or any country to play basketball in the offseason based on what happened to her."

LaVar Arrington brings to light the conversation about how we treat certain crimes on our own American soil. With the USA willing to make such a dangerous trade for a notable basketball player, it opens up how we treat citizens jailed within the system for similar crimes that Griner committed abroad.

"For me, it opened up a lot of conversations because it shouldn't be an either-or. It shouldn't be, do you free Paul Whelan or you free Brittney Griner? YOU FREE BOTH OF THEM. But it also makes me look at the fact that, okay if you're going after these people and trying to free them from what they have going on, I look at Brittney Griner's situation; why are you not taking that same exact look at people that are here? There are a lot of people that are sitting down that are incarcerated in American institutions that fall under the line that's less than what's going on right now."