We’ve been telling you about the response to Sen. Kelly Loeffler — part owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream — and her criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement. On Friday, all 12 players in the bubble sent her, and everyone, a strong message via the team’s official Twitter account. And their coach said over the weekend that working on that response has been unifying.
Last week, players across the league including Layshia Clarendon and Natasha Cloud slammed Loeffler for her public statements in opposition to league initiatives in support of BLM, like displaying “Black Lives Matter” on the court in Bradenton, Fla., and honoring women who have died in connection with police action or alleged racial violence.
Instead, Loeffler’s called for American flags to adorn WNBA jerseys, and vowed to fight what she calls the “politicization of sports.” That includes refusing to sell her interest in the team.
“But this is America and I’m not going to bow down to the woke mob,” Loeffler wrote in an editorial in the right-wing conservative website, The Daily Caller. “I’m not going to give up on the team because of my personal or political views.”
Although the WNBA responded to the controversy by issuing a statement of support for equality, fairness and social justice, followed by a team spokesperson’s “non-political” statement of support for “the business of sports and entertainment,” the Dream tweeted a graphic with the players’ statement Friday without comment, except to add that they inadvertently left one player out.
Glory Johnson’s signature was incorrectly left off of this statement. She contributed to it, stands by it and her signature should also be at the end of it. pic.twitter.com/BMUcHj8sRH— Atlanta Dream (@AtlantaDream) July 11, 2020
In their tweeted statement in support of BLM, the players did not call for Loeffler to end her association with the team, nor did they mention her name.
On Saturday, the team’s coach, Nicki Collen, told ESPN her players’ position on Loeffler was a “unique challenge” and said “it certainly hasn’t been a lot of fun.” But she did say their action was unifying.
“As they saw their counterparts on other teams be very demonstrative about this situation [they were] trying to figure out the right way to both support the organization but also have their voices heard,” Collen told ESPN. “They didn’t want to sit back and look like they didn’t care, but they also wanted to say it, I think, in a way, quite frankly, that shows how classy they are.”