Basketball: Lakers Win And Brittney Griner Update

3 min read

Blythe Hastings ’23

Sports Editor

LeBron James ensured the Lakers escaped with a 124-116 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday by completing a task few in NBA history have done before. By finishing with a season-high 56 points while shooting 19-for-31 from the field including six from 3-point range and nearly perfect (12-for-13) from the free-throw line along with 10 rebounds, the 37-year-old James became the oldest player in NBA history to post 50-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in a game. He also became the fourth-oldest player to post a 50-point game.

Following a four-game losing streak after the All-Star break, the Lakers (28-35) finally collected a win against a Warriors team (43-21) that has lost four consecutive games and eight of their last 10 amid Draymond Green’s absence. With that win, the Lakers hold slim leads over the New Orleans Pelicans (27-36) and the Portland Trail Blazers (25-38) for ninth place in the Western Conference and the second-to-last spot in the Play-In Tournament next month.

Afterwards, the Lakers held out optimism they could finally cement a winning streak beginning with games against opponents in San Antonio on Monday and in Houston on Wednesday. What James has accomplished so far during his 19th season at 37 years old has become a secondary storyline to the Lakers’ season-long issues. So at least for one night, James could find satisfaction that his dominance actually resulted in a rare win. 

WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner was arrested last month at a Moscow airport after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges. The Russian Customs Service said Saturday that the cartridges were identified as containing oil derived from cannabis, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The customs service identified the person arrested as a player for the U.S. women’s team and did not specify the date of her arrest. Russian media reported the player was Griner, and her agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, did not dispute those reports.

“We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA,” Kagawa Colas said Saturday. “As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern.” On Saturday, the State Department issued a “do not travel” advisory for Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine and urged all U.S. citizens to depart immediately, citing factors including “the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials” and “the Embassy’s limited ability to assist” Americans in Russia.

Griner, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, has played in Russia for the last seven years in the winter, earning over $1 million per season — more than quadruple her WNBA salary. She last played for her Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg on Jan. 29 before the league took a two-week break in early February for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments. More than a dozen WNBA players were playing in Russia and Ukraine this winter, including league MVP Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley of the champion Chicago Sky. The WNBA confirmed Saturday that all players besides Griner had left both countries. The 31-year-old Griner has won two Olympic gold medals with the U.S., a WNBA championship with the Mercury and a national championship at Baylor. She is a seven-time All-Star. 

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