As you’ve no doubt heard by now, WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison earlier month.
Griner was carrying a small quantity of hash oil in her luggage when she was detained and searched by security at an airport near Moscow back in February.
Now, unless the leaders of Russia and the United States are able to work out some sort of agreement, Griner will spend the better part of the next decade behind bars.
It’s a bleak situation, but fortunately, Griner has some powerful people on her side — people like Dennis Rodman.
According to a new report from People magazine, Rodman is planning a trip to Russia to try and secure Griner’s release.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” the former NBA star said during an interview in Washington, D.C.
“I’m trying to go this week,” Rodman continued, adding:
“I know Putin too well.”
Yes, the retired basketball legend — who was as well-known for his antics off the court as he was for his athletic ability — has launched an unlikely second career for himself as a sort of unofficial diplomat for the US.
Always the rebel, Rodman specializes in meeting with rogue leaders who have alienated themselves from the global community.
Rodman has met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un — whom he referred to as a “very good guy” — on numerous occasions, even helping to secure the release of American prisoner Kenneth Bae in 2014.
Now, the ex-Chicago Bull is hoping to work his unique brand of magic in Russia.
Rodman previously met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014, and he later described the controversial Russian president as a “cool guy.”
Rodman specified, however, that he and Putin spoke solely about sports during that meeting.
“They don’t know about American basketball, American football. I went over there to represent America as far as basketball is concerned,” Rodman told Fox Business at the time, adding:
“I’m not a politician, I’m just a basketball ambassador. That’s it.”
It doesn’t appear that Rodman’s trip to Moscow is sanctioned by the White House, but he also doesn’t need any special permission to travel to Russia.
If Rodman ends up embarking on this mission, the stakes will be incredibly high.
Griner will soon be transferred to a Russian penal colony, where she’ll face hard labor and deplorable conditions.
There’s been talk of a prisoner swap, with the US potentially releasing notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner’s freedom.
Those negotiations appear to have stalled, however, with insiders claiming that Putin — who is still waging an increasingly unpopular war against Ukraine — reluctant to let go of the political leverage he’s gained by imprisoning Griner.
An intervention from someone like Rodman might be exactly what’s needed to help negotiations get back on track.
We’ll have further updates on this developing story as more information becomes available.