Former NBA player Dennis Rodman said Saturday he will visit Russia in hopes of securing the release of detained Phoenix Mercury star Britney Griner.
The five-time NBA champion told NBC News' Jonathan Allen in Washington D.C. that he has received “permission” to travel to Russia to “help” Griner.
“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” he said. “I'm trying to go this week.”
It's unclear if anyone personally affiliated with Griner has been in contact with Rodman. The White House, which has recently engaged in discussions with Russia about a detainee swap involving Griner, hasn't responded to NBC News' request for comment on Rodman's travel plans.
The Chicago Bulls legend has a history of conducting informal diplomacy on behalf of the United States with totalitarian world leaders. Rodman has made multiple trips to North Korea since befriending Kim Jong Un in 2013, and accompanied then-President Donald Trump on a controversial visit to meet the dictator in Singapore.
After visiting Moscow in 2014, Dennis Rodman called Russian president Vladimir Putin”cool.”
“I know Putin too well,” he told NBC News.
Griner, playing in Russia’s women’s basketball league during the WNBA offseason, was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport on Feb. 17 after law enforcement found her carrying a vaporizer cartridge that contained hashish oil, an illegal substance in Russia.
Griner’s trial began on July 1. The eight-time All-Star pleaded guilty to a drug charge shortly thereafter, stressing to the judge she had “no intent” of breaking the law. She was sentenced to nine years in prison. There have been discussions about a prisoner swap involving Griner, but nothing has come to fruition.