The quarantine period at IMG Academy is over and WNBA teams are taking over the playing courts that will soon feature “Black Lives Matter” at the baselines, part of their continued work as leading athletes in social justice.
It is what New York Liberty point guard Layshia Clarendon said they will refocus on in the aftermath of Atlanta Dream co-owner Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s stance against the Black Lives Matter movement.
WNBPA focused on social justice council
The WNBPA reportedly met with the league and commissioner Cathy Engelbert last week to address Loeffler. Clarendon, the first vice president of the WNBA Players Association, was asked during the Liberty’s virtual media day on Monday about the process of ousting Loeffler (R-Ga.) and if the group had asked for her to move forward on it.
“As players we’ve made our feelings very known, as you saw across all platforms on social media. And we’re now getting back focused on the Social Justice Council and the reason we came here was to honor Breonna Taylor. It was to dedicate the season to ‘Say Her Name’ and the victims of police brutality. So we really refocused our efforts and our emotional energy on the social justice movement at hand. We’re full team ahead on how we can make this season the most impactful that it can be.”
The players association wrote “E-N-O-U-G-H! O-U-T!” shortly after Loeffler wrote a letter to Engelbert against the support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Players individually wrote their support of it on social platforms.
WNBPA working on social justice initiatives in bubble
The WNBA announced its Social Justice Council as part of a season dedicated to the efforts. It will be led by, among others, Clarendon, Sydney Colson, Breanna Stewart, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, A’ja Wilson and Satou Sabally. The goal is to educate, amplify and mobilize for action to address a history of inequality, implicit bias and systemic racism.
Clarendon said at a Juneteenth event by the Liberty the strength for the WNBA is in numbers and they will all be together at IMG Academy to bring awareness. The season is scheduled to begin July 25 and the regular season is slated to end Sept. 12.
The league announced Monday afternoon that opening weekend will highlight the new platform, “The WNBA Justice Movement,” and all players will wear the name of Breonna Taylor during national tripleheaders that weekend.
Loeffler’s statements for ‘own political gain’
Clarendon played for Loeffler and the Dream for 2 1/2 seasons from 2016-18. She wrote a first-person piece for The Undefeated saying Loeffler was the “anti-movement.”
I have shared meals with Kelly, stepped foot in her home. I have introduced her to my wife and played my heart out for the team she owns with her cheering on the sidelines. I stood with pride as I watched her honor Stacey Abrams at center court, donate ticket sales to Planned Parenthood and roll out a Pride campaign that made me feel seen.
While her comments surrounding BLM aren’t new, it has been shocking and hurtful to see her turn this league into a moment for her own political gain. These types of people can be harder to identify at first.
Loeffler was appointed to the Senate in December and is running for election this fall against 20 other candidates. She was not the preferred candidate of President Donald Trump and conservatives, so she is trying to win votes to overcome Rep. Doug Collins.
In a statement, the WNBA said Loeffler has not served in day-to-day operations since October 2019.
Will Loeffler give up WNBA team?
Loeffler told Fox News last week she would not be giving up her stake in the team, which she has co-owned with Mary Brock since 2011. Brock reportedly is not interested in buying her out, and per a report by Jeff Schultz the two have been actively trying to sell the team for a few years now.
The exact financials are unknown as neither the NBA, which owns 50 percent of the WNBA, nor the Dream have released exact figures.
The situation is similar to that of Donald Sterling when the NBA forced him to sell the Los Angeles Clippers after racist comments. The Dream is not worth nearly as much as the Clippers, and would go for a lower price tag.
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