WNBA teams stage media blackout to protest fines for black warmup shirts

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Players from the WNBA’s New York Liberty and Indiana Fever refused to answer basketball-related questions after the Fever’s 82-70 win over New York Thursday afternoon.

The decision comes one day after the WNBA fined three teams and multiple players for the players’ decision to wear black warmup shirts in response to recent shootings by and of police officers.

The players only discussed the Black Lives Matter movement, their desire to use their platforms as professional athletes to make statements, and the fines.

In the Liberty locker room, Swin Cash made a brief statement about the game to reporters while her teammates gathered behind her. Then Tanisha Wright spoke to reporters about the fines and more:

“We really feel like there’s still an issue here in America,” Wright said. “And we want to be able to use our platforms, we want to be able to use our voices, we don’t want to let anybody silence us and what we want to talk about.”

“It’s unfortunate that the WNBA has fined us and not supported its players.”

Tina Charles and Cash also commented on the Black Lives Matter movement and other issues in the video above. Charles, who wore her black shirt while accepting the WNBA’s Player of the Month award, posted the following message on Instagram account:

Charles also tweeted out the following picture and tagged the WNBA:

In the Fever locker room, Tamika Catchings and other players spoke to reporters as well, but only about “non-basketball” topics:

“There’s a lot of other stuff outside of basketball that’s going on that, as a whole, all the players have grabbed a hold of,” Catchings said. “I think it’s important that us as players — being able to utilize our voice, and being able to stand for, and stay united for what matters to us.”

Catchings said it was no single person’s decision to not answer basketball-related questions.

The WNBA’s fines have drawn widespread criticism, some of which was discussed by our Dan Devine Thursday morning. Carmelo Anthony spoke out Thursday afternoon before Team USA practice, saying, “I don’t see no reason to fine them. If anything you should want to support them.”

“A bunch of teams did it,” he continued. “Everyone has their own freedom of speech if they decide to use the platform. I don’t see no reason for anybody to get fined. We did it [3 ¹/₂ years ago after the Trayvon Martin shooting]. The NBA did it. The NBA was very supportive. I don’t see any difference in this matter. Right now the players have a very strong stance in what they believe in right now. I don’t think anyone should be fighting that at this moment.”