- Covers women’s college basketball and the WNBA
- Previously covered UConn and the WNBA Connecticut Sun for the Hartford Courant
- Stanford graduate and Baltimore native with further experience at the Dallas Morning News, Seattle Times and Cincinnati Enquirer
A YouTube personality tried to push his way through Phoenix Mercury personnel in order to get to Brittney Griner while she and the team were at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Saturday morning, according to a police report obtained by ESPN.
Alex Stein, who the WNBA described as a “provocateur,” approached Griner while the team was walking on the concourse as they were heading to Indiana for a Sunday tipoff following two games against the Dallas Wings.
A Mercury security representative stayed between Griner and the individual, but the passenger pushed the security personnel. The guard pushed the passenger against a wall on the concourse, according to the report, and Griner waited behind a gate area until officers arrived.
Officers were dispatched at approximately 9:38 a.m. The security guard told officers that Stein “seemed aggressive and made some inappropriate comments” to Griner, the report said. While the passenger never got physical with Griner, the Mercury guard told officers the passenger was physical with him, but that he does not want to press charges.
Griner, one of the league’s biggest stars, spent most of 2022 in Russian custody after officials said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage. She was sentenced to a nine-year prison term but was freed in December through a prisoner exchange negotiated between the United States and Russia.
WNBA teams typically travel commercially, with few exceptions, for road games, although the league and the Mercury worked in the offseason to develop alternative arrangements where possible for Griner due to her high-profile case. According to a video posted by Mercury teammate Shey Peddy earlier this season, Griner and teammates appear to have traveled via JSX, a semi-private airline, to their season-opening game in Los Angeles.
After officers were called to the scene on Saturday, an American Airlines manager tried to find an area for the Mercury to congregate until their flight. A nearby Admirals Club said the team could enter if they purchased a day pass, but once the team was escorted to the lounge, the Mercury were told “they did not have enough room for the team,” the report said.
The Mercury were eventually escorted to a Customer Experience office to wait until they boarded their flight. The team was then escorted to their gate by officers around 10:20 a.m. and immediately boarded without any other issues.
Airport officers were unable to locate Stein in the area, the report said, and American Airlines did not find a passenger with his name flying at the airport. The airport’s Master Control Room confirmed that he “walked to the lower gates, connected with a female passenger and entered the Skylink Train heading to Terminals B & D.”
Although the incident happened in Terminal A (which is exclusively operated by American Airlines), the Skyline Train — which is accessible while inside security — connects all five terminals of the airport, one of the largest in the U.S. Stein, who was filming the confrontation, posted a 90-second video on YouTube of the interaction later in the weekend.
Griner has largely picked up where she left off pre-detainment, averaging 22.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in 30.6 minutes per game for the Mercury.
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