Former NBA player Dennis Rodman announced he is going to Russia to help imprisoned WNBA player Brittney Griner — and White House officials are not thrilled.

The basketball player claimed on Saturday, “I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl. I’m trying to go this week.”

Rodman added, “I know Putin too well.” He notably called the Russian President “cool” back in 2014.

Since his basketball days, Rodman has taken an interest in casual international diplomacy. He’s traveled to North Korea many times and even befriended dictator Kim Jong-Un.


A week of entertainment news in your in-box.
We find the news you need to know, so you don't have to.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price clarified on Monday, “He would not be traveling on behalf of the U.S. government.”

Price added, “We believe that anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder those release efforts.”

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February for allegedly having vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage. Earlier this month, she was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison after being convicted of possession and smuggling of cannabis oil.

Following her sentencing, President Biden called for Griner’s immediate release.

On August 4, he said, “My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan home safely.” Whelan is a U.S. citizen and former Marine who is also in Russian custody.

Following backlash from his comments, Rodman stated on Monday that he is not planning to travel to Russia at the moment.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on July 29 that there is a proposal in the works to exchange Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and Whelan.

On the matter, Price noted that it’s best “if these discussions take place in private” but emphasized that this is “something we continue to work [on] with the utmost urgency.”

Leave a comment

Read more about: