Chet Holmgren Says He Feels a 'Sense of Helplessness' Amidst 'Terrible' Brittney Griner Case

Holmgren joins LeBron James and other NBA stars in speaking out in support of the detained WNBA star

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 23: Chet Holmgren poses for photos on the red carpet during the 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 23, 2022 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)
Chet Holmgren at the 2022 NBA Draft in New York City. Photo: Arturo Holmes/Getty

Oklahoma City Thunder star rookie Chet Holmgren is calling for the safe return of detained WNBA player Brittney Griner.

"I definitely think that Brittany Griner should be home right now," Holmgren, 20, tells PEOPLE on his first day at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Holmgren, who was drafted second overall in the league's 2022 draft, has been dominating the NBA's summer tournament. But the 20-year-old athlete continues to make time to follow Griner's trial.

"Yeah...I've been following, seeing the situation evolve," says Holmgren. "It's a terrible situation, it's just a terrible situation all around."

"There's a sense of helplessness on my end," he continues. "And I'm sure that many other people are feeling that too right now."

PORTLAND, OREGON - MARCH 17: Chet Holmgren #34 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs looks on against the Georgia State Panthers during the second half in the first round game of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center on March 17, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Chet Holmgren, No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Abbie Parr/Getty

Holmgren has been using his platform on social media to spread awareness throughout Griner's detainment, which he says is crucial to the cause.

"There's definitely a level or aspect of awareness that has to happen for certain things to happen in today's age," says Holmgren.

"Beyond just the WNBA, she's a person," Holmgren continues. "And for her to just...whether she played basketball or not, for her to just be left over there and nobody do anything would be pretty wrong."

"Hopefully, she's able to come home soon," Holmgren adds.

WNBA all-stars wore Brittney Griner's jersey during the game
WNBA All-Star Game 2022.

The Thunder rookie's comments came a day before the WNBA honored Griner during the league's All-Star Weekend in Chicago. Mentions of Griner, who was named an honorary all-star by the league, were incorporated into the weekend at every turn.

The Phoenix Mercury star's name and number 42 were displayed on the court, and all of the all-stars donned Griner's jersey for the second half of Sunday's game.

Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird told reporters, "Yeah, every now and then we'll answer questions about All-Star and talk about basketball, but you're going to see her name on the back of all of our shirts. We want it to always be there."

RELATED VIDEO; Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Russian Drug Charges: 'I Did Not Want to Break the Law'

While the WNBA is working to keep Griner at the forefront of media attention, NBA players have received some criticism for not doing more.

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Holmgren joins LeBron James, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown as NBA stars who have voiced their support for Griner.

James, 37, tweeted out a petition to bring Griner home in June and said, "We need to come together and help do whatever we possibly can to bring BG home quickly and safely!! Our voice as athletes is stronger together."

During the 2022 NBA Finals, several Boston Celtics players, including Brown, wore "We Are BG" shirts, which featured a QR code linking to the same petition, ahead of their team practice.

"As a collective, we wanted to come out and show our support for Brittney Griner," Brown said of the shirts during a press conference. "She's been over there for an extended amount of time, and we feel like enough is enough."

Griner's trial in Russia began on July 1, and on Thursday the WNBA star pleaded guilty to smuggling drugs into the country, saying she did so "inadvertently." She faces up to 10 years if she is convicted.

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