“It’s just really sad,” the former NBA superstar said of Griner’s nearly 160-day imprisonment in Russia
“It’s a really unfortunate situation,” the 59-year-old NBA MVP tells PEOPLE. “We hope she comes home soon. It’s really sad and unfortunate.”
The 31-year-old Phoenix Mercury star has been jailed in Russia since Feb. 17, when she was arrested for carrying vape cartridges containing hash oil through the Moscow airport. At the time, Griner was on her way back to the U.S. after playing for a Russian team during the WNBA’s off-season. She pleaded guilty to the charges on July 7, but said that she was packing quickly and did not mean to break the law, doing so “inadvertently.”
Griner’s wife Cherelle has pleaded tirelessly with everyone from Rev. Al Sharpton to President Joe Biden to get the the two-time Olympic gold medalist home, and Barkley says he understands why.