The standoff between WNBA players and Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler continues with players wearing shirts in support of the Republican senator’s rival in an upcoming election.
Loeffler, a keen supporter of Donald Trump, wrote to the WNBA last month opposing the league’s support of Black Lives Matter. She said the organization supports “the defunding of police, called for the removal of Jesus from churches and the disruption of the nuclear family structure harbored anti-Semitic views, and promoted violence and destruction across the country.”
Black Lives Matter is a decentralized movement and does not have official policies. Loeffler’s reference to Jesus may be due to the objection of some supporters to depictions of Jesus as a white European.
In response, the WNBA released a statement saying it would “continue to use our platforms to vigorously advocate for social justice”.
Ha. WNBA player wearing a Vote Warnock shirt. Rev Warnock is running for senate in Georgia against WNBA franchise owner, proud bigot and shady financier Kelly Loeffler @SenatorLoeffler pic.twitter.com/hFDnfS3Let
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) August 4, 2020
This week the opposition to Loeffler has stepped up, with WNBA players wearing “Vote Warnock” t-shirts to games, in reference to Raphael Warnock, who is running in George against Loeffler for her US Senate seat.
Elizabeth Williams, a forward for Atlanta Dream, told ESPN the players had wanted to avoid talking about Loeffler directly, while still supporting her rival.
“I think when all this stuff started happening with her, we didn’t want to feel like we were pawns,” Williams said. “We can only control so much about what the league does [in regard to Loeffler], and so for us, we wanted it to be bigger than that.
“That’s kind of been the theme of this season. So we wanted to make sure we could still keep the focus on our social justice movement, and funny enough, Rev Warnock is somebody who supports everything that we support and just happens to be running in that seat. So it just worked out really well.”
Warnock, a pastor and Democrat, said in a statement that he was “honored and humbled by the overwhelming support from the WNBA players. This movement gives us the opportunity to fight for what we believe in, and I stand by all athletes promoting social justice on and off the court.”
Loeffler, meanwhile, condemned the move.
“This is just more proof that the out-of-control cancel culture wants to shut out anyone who disagrees with them,” she said in a statement. “It’s clear that the league is more concerned with playing politics than basketball, and I stand by what I wrote in June.”