Skip to main content

After Dennis Rodman Says He 'Got Permission' To Go To Russia To Help Brittney Griner, The White House Has Responded

Dennis Rodman was known as one of the most dominant and eccentric personalities on the basketball court during his 14 seasons in the NBA. However, in recent years, he’s actually become somewhat of a diplomat, who’s attempted to smooth out international issues on several occasions. Most recently, Rodman revealed that he “got permission” to go to Russia to make an appeal for the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner. But the White House has since responded, and it doesn’t seem to be thrilled with the basketball veteran’s plans. 

It was this past weekend that the former Chicago Bull announced his intention to travel to Russia to defend Brittney Griner, who was recently sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to drug charges. Dennis Rodman didn’t get into too many specifics in regard to his plan, but the hall of famer seemed determined to make the trip, based on his interview with NBC News

I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl. I'm trying to go this week. … I know Putin too well.

Something that the famed sports personality failed to clarify is who gave him the alleged “permission.” One thing that seems clear, though, is that it didn’t come from the White House. A spokesperson for the Biden administration issued a statement on the matter, and the WH would prefer that the retired athlete stay out of the proceedings: 

It’s public information that the administration has made a significant offer to the Russians and anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder release efforts.

Phoenix Mercury player Brittney Griner, a WNBA champion and all-star, was arrested on drug charges back in February after being detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport. Griner was preparing to return to the states after playing a season with Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg when she was discovered to have vaporizer cartridges with less than a gram of hash oil in her possession. After being detained for months, Griner’s trial commenced on July 1, and she eventually pleaded guilty. She received her nine-year sentence on August 4th and has since filed an appeal.

It’s fair to say that this would be a complicated situation for Dennis Rodman to intervene in. But as mentioned, he’s placed himself in heated situations before (and I’m not talking about the time he weighed in on Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan’s feud). Between 2013 and 2018, Rodman paid visits to North Korea, where he held basketball exhibitions. He also became close with the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, which is why Rodman wasn’t amused by Seth Rogen’s The Interview. The five-time NBA champion leaned on this relationship when making an appeal to Jong-Un in 2013 to release American prisoner Kenneth Bae. The Korean-American missionary was ultimately freed the following year. 

At present, Dennis Rodman (who’s set to be the subject of a movie soon) has yet to respond to the White House’s statement. It’s honestly hard to say whether Rodman will heed the Biden administration’s advice and sit this international incident out. 

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.