While traveling with the Phoenix Mercury to their weekend game on Saturday, Brittney Griner was harassed by YouTube provocateur Alex Stein.
Stein, best known for interrupting local government meetings and confronting politicians, had much to say to the basketball player, accusing her of hating America and questioning whether her release from a Russian detention center was worth it.
The incident occurred at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Saturday morning, Essence reported. The Phoenix Mercury were headed to Indiana after playing in Arlington, Texas, twice last week.
Clips of the incident show Stein trying to push through the team’s security personnel to get to Griner.
“BG, was that a fair trade for the Merchant of Death?” He asked in a clip, referring to the Russian prisoner who returned to their homeland in exchange for Griner’s release.
— Alex Stein #99 (@alexstein99) June 11, 2023
“Do you still want to boycott America?” Stein asked later as security tried to keep him as far away from Griner as possible.
Stein then said Griner “hates” America.
According to a police report, when airport officers arrived at the scene, the security guard told them Stein “seemed aggressive and made some inappropriate comments” to Griner, ESPN reported. Though Stein never got physical with the 32-year-old, he did with the security personnel. The guard does not want to press charges at this time.
After the officers’ arrival, an American Airlines manager looked for a safe area for the team to wait for their flight. A nearby Admirals Club representative said they could stay in the club if they bought a day pass, but once they were escorted into the lounge, they were told there wasn’t enough space for the team. They were taken to a customer experience office, where they waited for their flight before boarding it without further incident.
The police report also noted officers could not find Stein in the area, and American Airlines couldn’t find a passenger with his name scheduled for a flight. ESPN reported the airport master control room confirmed Stein “walked to the lower gates, connected with a female passenger and entered the Skylink Train heading to Terminals B & D.”
Both the WNBA and the Mercury addressed the incident shortly after it happened. The former said Griner was approved to fly charter for games (players usually fly commercial unless cleared to do otherwise). It’s unclear why she flew commercially to Indiana.
“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. His actions were inappropriate and unfortunate,” the WNBA said. “The safety of Brittney Griner and all WNBA players is our top priority. 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 Mercury said they are “reviewing the incident” and explained, “The health and well-being of our players and staff are our top priority, and we will always take every step within our power to protect player safety.”
“We are committed to our support of BG and advocating for all American hostages abroad. We will continue our support of marginalized communities and fighting the kind of hate that targeted us today,” they wrote in a statement. “No one, regardless of identity, should ever fear for their safety. We will be coordinating with the WNBA on next steps.”
Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard also noted the team “will be making adjustments that maybe should have happened before.”
Despite the incident, the Mercury enjoyed an 85-82 victory at Indiana.