While traveling through the Dallas Fort-Worth International airport on Saturday morning, Brittney Griner and her Phoenix Mercury teammates were confronted and harassed by right-wing YouTuber Alex Stein.

Initial news of the confrontation was posted to Twitter by Mercury forward Brianna Turner, who wrote: “Player safety while traveling should be at the forefront. People following with cameras saying wild remarks is never acceptable. Excessive harassment. Our team nervously huddled in a corner unsure how to move about. We demand better.”

“As we gather additional information about today’s incident at the Dallas airport, it has come to our attention that this was orchestrated by a social media figure and provocateur. His actions were inappropriate and unfortunate,” the WNBA said in a statement. “The safety of Brittney Griner and all WNBA players is our top priority.”

Griner, who was detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022, made her return to the WNBA last month. Prior to the start of the 2023 season, concerns about her safety while traveling were raised as the league does not currently allow teams to charter flights for the majority of their games. In an April interview with the Associated Press, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the league was working with the Mercury and Griner’s team to establish a plan.

“We’ve been working with Brittney and Phoenix since she signed and our security experts,” Engelbert said at the time. “Working on a plan, but we want it to be confidential. She wants to travel with the team sometimes. Work as much as we can making sure we are following advice of our team. We have a very good plan, but I’m not going to share more specifics.”

In the WNBA’s statement on Saturday, the league noted that Griner’s established safety plan “included charter flights for WNBA games and assigned security personnel with her at all times.” But while Griner has been approved to fly charter, that exception does not apply to her Phoenix Mercury teammates.

Following Saturday’s incident, the WNBPA — the players’ union — called on the league to immediately change its policy on charter flights for all players.

“What BG and all of her PHX teammates experienced today was a calculated confrontation that left them feeling very unsafe,” the WNBPA said in a statement. “Everyone who was paying attention knew this would happen. We could have and should have been more proactive. Allowing teams to fly charter is ONLY about player health and safety, and until the league and teams take this issue seriously, situations like this will continue to occur.”

Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas echoed that message on Twitter: “We cannot celebrate these women and their leadership without also protecting them. It’s past time for charters and enhanced security measures for all players.”

The WNBA expanded the use of charter flights for the 2023 season to include all postseason games and a handful of games on back-to-back nights. While some WNBA owners have publicly called for charter flights — with some even receiving fines for breaking the rules — the league has previously pushed back on the idea, citing the high cost and noting that it wasn’t a priority for players during their collective bargaining negotiations in 2020.

Former No. 1 pick Charli Collier joined the long list of WNBA roster cuts Wednesday morning, as the Dallas Wings waived the top pick from 2021 draft.

Many players have found themselves on the wrong side of the league’s roster squeeze, include DiDi Richards, Monika Czinano, Brea Beal and Destanni Henderson — too many, if you ask WNBPA president Nneka Ogwumike.

“A whole league is training at home…” she wrote on Twitter.

In the aftermath of the recent cuts, Ogwumike was far from the only player calling for WNBA expansion to increase the number of available roster spots. The 12-team league has a maximum of 144 spots available.

As of Wednesday morning, 18 of the 36 picks from the 2023 draft appear on WNBA rosters. Last season, just 17 of the 36 picks from the 2022 WNBA draft made opening day rosters. And many teams still have cuts left to make to fit under the 12-player maximum by Thursday’s roster deadline.

While much attention has been given to possible expansion teams, former All-Star MVP Erica Wheeler suggested a quicker fix to the roster crunch.

“We pushing get more teams in the W! NO,” wrote Erica Wheeler. “EXTEND the roster to 14 players! That’s just a quick signature!! Adding a new teams gotta go thru 500000 layers! Adding 2 more spots to 12 teams is 24 more spots in the league! This is a easy change!

“And thennnnnn talk about adding teams! Of course we want more teams but extending the roster spots are easier right now!”

Former No. 1 overall pick and 2022 rookie of the year Rhyne Howard called the cuts – and the surrounding discussions – “stressful.”

Connecticut Sun guard Natisha Hiedeman provided encouragement to any player who finds herself suddenly without a team.

“Being a player who has been cut from a WNBA roster in the past I just want ppl to know your value as a person or basketball player does not decrease,” she wrote. “There WILL be another opportunity & when it comes be ready for it. But expansion… WE NEED YOU!!”

Yet despite the criticism of the league, Phoenix Mercury forward Brianna Turner encouraged fans to follow the WNBA and to help the league grow.

“I know there’s upset fans at WNBA roster cuts & I see many people saying how they won’t support the league bc their fave got cut,” she wrote. “I would actually encourage the opposite! Please continue to support the league so it can grow & create more opportunities to support future players!!”

Phoenix Mercury forward Brianna Turner took to Twitter to defend transgender athletes’ participation in sports, while also calling out the people who are attacking such participation in the name of protecting women’s sports.

“With so many people interested in the well-being of women’s sports recently, I can’t wait to see an outpouring of new WNBA fans this summer!!! Or are you guys only concerned when it comes to trans inclusion?” she wrote Monday.

On April 5, Kansas became the latest state to impose a ban on transgender athletes from girls’ and women’s sports, from the kindergarten through the college level. Kansas state legislature overrode Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto to enact the ban.

Nineteen other states have imposed such restrictions, with Wyoming handing down its own ban just before Kansas.

Turner called it “hilarious” that such politicians who make these policies are doing so in the name of “protecting” women’s sports “yet have never bothered to attend or watch women’s sports in their lives.”

“They assume trans women are inherently superior to cis women,” she continued, noting that she supports trans inclusion in sport and is not “afraid” of transgender women being included in sport.

“Just irks me when people disguise their transphobia as caring for women’s athletics because in reality a lot of y’all could care less about the future of women in sport, you just don’t like the idea of trans women.

“I don’t support this fake outrage directed at the minuscule percentage of trans athletes. How about creating policy that would actually be beneficial?”

Through research of her own, Turner found “dozens of scholarly articles” that showcase how transgender women on hormones don’t hold an athletic advantage, she said.

“Day one you’ll scream, ‘Support women’s sports by excluding trans women.’ Yet by day two it’s, ‘Your muscles look manly. Women’s basketball is boring. You aren’t profitable,’” she wrote. “So fraudulent it’s sickening! Please stop advocating for women’s athletics to purely fit your hypocritical narrative.”

The Phoenix Mercury has signed Brianna Turner to a multi-year contract extension, the WNBA team announced Saturday. Contract details were not specified in the team’s announcement.

Turner, who joined the Mercury in 2019, was named to the All-WNBA Defensive Team in 2020 and 2021. The 6’3” forward averaged 7.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game last season, helping Phoenix to a WNBA Finals run.

“As I’ve said many times, we want high character, high effort players on our team, and Brianna Turner exemplifies that,” said Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman in a statement. “We also want players who want to be here in the Valley, as members of our Mercury and Suns organization, and in our community, and Breezy exemplifies that as well. Getting this extension done speaks to how highly we value her now and how much we believe in her potential moving forward.”

The Phoenix Mercury announced Monday that Brianna Turner and Diamond DeShields have returned to Phoenix.

The two had been finishing up their playing commitments in Italy, which caused them to miss the start of the season. Upon their return, the Mercury terminated the replacement contracts of Emma Cannon and Jennie Simms.

Cannon and Simms each saw some minutes in the Mercury’s season-opening 106-88 loss to the Las Vegas Aces. Cannon had three points, two rebounds and one assist in six minutes on the court, while Simms added two points, four rebounds and one assist in 12 minutes.

The return of DeShields and Turner should provide a boost for Phoenix. DeShields, who joined Phoenix via a trade and recently opened up about a 2020 tumor diagnosis that threatened her career, is a WNBA All-Star who averaged 16.2 points per game in 2019. In 2021, she averaged 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

Turner averaged 7.8 points per game in 2021 alongside 9.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, and she brings a defensive presence that the Mercury were lacking against the Aces.

The Mercury next play the Seattle Storm at home at 10 p.m. ET Wednesday.