Posted Up - Renee Montgomery on skipping the WNBA season: ‘Right now is a special time’

The WNBA veteran joined Posted Up with Chris Haynes to explain why she decided to not play in the 2020 season. Plus, she fills us in on the outreach she’s already received from NBA players and business leaders on how to make an impact in social justice reform.

Video Transcript

RENEE MONTGOMERY: It's not like, forget the WNBA. I'm mad at them. I'm leaving. It's not even about that. It's about, like, I'm going to do some stuff out here. Y'all do y'all's thing there. And, like, let's see how big we can make this moment.

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CHRIS HAYNES: I have right here met someone who made headlines last week, shocked a lot of people. For those that know her, it wouldn't come as a surprise. But Renee Montgomery, veteran WNBA player, former Sixth Man Award, two-time champion. She's here on the show.

Renee, I'm glad to have you on. And just for the people who were hiding under a rock last week, Renee announced that she will not join the WNBA in their restart when they head to Florida. So I want to bring Renee on, because she has a unique perspective. Ultimately, what was the underlying reasons why you chose not to play in the restart?

RENEE MONTGOMERY: Because I don't want to look crazy out there when I'm not really in it. Like, and athletes will get it. Like, if you are not in the moment, or you're not, like, really feeling it-- you can always tell an athlete that gets traded to a team, and their numbers go dramatically. They just not in it.

It's the same athlete, just, they not in it. So for me, I know that if I went to try to play, and I'm constantly like, doing other things, or I'm not doing my normal routines-- like, I have-- I'm a very routine type of person. So if things start to just mess up all my normal routines, I'm not going to be the same player.

So for me, that's like-- that's what I told people. Because everybody's like, well what are you going to do? I don't even have it figured out yet.

CHRIS HAYNES: How much of your decision has to do with the social climate that we're in right now?

RENEE MONTGOMERY: It has everything to do with it. And that's what I mean, because that's what I was saying. I don't have a built-in, huge team, so when I'm trying to do different things, or-- like, I just threw a Juneteenth block party. Like I was cooking the meat too. You know, like people don't understand--

CHRIS HAYNES: Yeah, I read that.

RENEE MONTGOMERY: You know what I mean? We're not like the NBA where I can just book out everything to be done. Like I need to-- if I want to get stuff done, I need to do it, or I need to be a strong part of why it gets done. And I do have a team, but I'm just saying.

So for me, that would mean me, before a game, maybe when I'm taking my nap, spending time on trying to plan things. That's not my process. So that's not going to be good for me as a athlete.

CHRIS HAYNES: Have any NBA players, since you made your decision, reached out to you to kind of pick your brain on how you came to this conclusion?

RENEE MONTGOMERY: There have been. I've been invited to some bigger campaigns. Some like, yes, some NBA players have hit me up. Some that even are even here right now actually said, you, you should have hit me for your Juneteenth event.

You know, so [INAUDIBLE] Howard. He said I should have hit him for my Juneteenth event because he's here. So that's what I need to start doing more too. Because now that athletes know kind of how I think and where I stand, a lot of them have reached out, which is a good thing.

A lot of businesses have reached out and said, you know, we're a white management business, and we don't even know how to start the conversation. So I'm almost like now I see, like my path almost an educational process working on the system inside out. Because some business owners, they don't even know how to make it more inclusive.

They know that some employees are feeling some type of way, and they want to know, how can they make it a good environment? Can we-- can I have a talk with the employees. So I'm starting to see that that's kind of might be my pathway. And that just kind of fell in my lap. I didn't even think about it, but it makes sense. Because you have to beat the system. You have to start from within.

CHRIS HAYNES: And I'm seeing that, like, you're stepping out and going against the grain from what people would say. But you're already seeing pathways to making a difference, you know? That's exactly what you want to accomplish in the first place.

And so it's good to see that. It's glad-- first of all, good to see that you got support from your league. Then you've got players reaching out supporting you, asking questions. Then you've got these companies also reaching out. Because that's ultimately what we need to be doing.

We need people like yourself, who look like yourself, who come from a different perspective that can tell these companies that, you know, a lot of companies don't have people that look like us at the top. Don't know how to make decisions. Don't know what diversity looks like.

RENEE MONTGOMERY: And they want to listen right now, and that's my point.

CHRIS HAYNES: And it's the time! Exactly.

RENEE MONTGOMERY: Exactly. Because maybe in four months after they've watched the NBA season, people might start to feel like closure about a situation. In a sense that everything goes back to normalcy. So right now, companies are hitting me up. I don't know if they would do that after the season. And I think that's what I want people to understand. Right now is a special time where it was a perfect storm.

CHRIS HAYNES: Is there a chance, Renee, you go through, you're doing things in your community-- is there a-- do you see yourself, the possibility of reconsidering your stance, and be like, you know what?

Later on, I might want to join. If there is. I don't know if there is a loophole to where you can join mid-season or something like that. Is that a possibility that's something you'd consider? Or not--

RENEE MONTGOMERY: That's nothing to consider. That's not something to consider for me, because like, what-- I don't want to even hop in the season halfway. Again, I told the type of person I am, I like to be prepared, be about my business, know what I'm doing.

So no, I wouldn't want to hop in half season anyway. And even still, I want to see this thing through this year. So like, that another thing. Once I start these campaigns and these different things that I'm doing, I want to see it through.

I don't want to start it, and then halfway through I go play. You know, and I don't get to see that the results or see, you know, what happens. So no, I want to see this thing through.