A lot of people think her sentence is politically driven because of the U.S. government’s involvement in helping Ukraine in its fight against Russia 

So people think that Griner is collateral damage in the simmering issues between the two nations.

Others believe Griner is simply being used as a pawn to get some Russian prisoners home from America as part of a prisoner swap. 

One prominent African-American professor believes there are two reasons Griner’s punishment was so harsh: Because of her race and her sexuality. 

Michael Eric Dyson, who is a prominent author and professor, said that Russia is holding Griner’s blackness and queerness against her. 

“There is no question that if she weren’t a woman who challenged the sexual norms… She’s married to a woman, but she’s a dominant ball player," Dyson said.

She’s a phenomenal cultural icon. Even LeBron had to admit it,” Dyson added.

Whatever the reason, Griner is being used in a political game of chicken between the two countries to see who will blink first on this issue.