WNBA Atlanta Dream players showed up to a game wearing jerseys supporting the political opponent of the team’s owner, Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
The Georgia Republican sparked a backlash from the women’s basketball team after opposing the WNBA’s affiliation with Black Lives Matter, the New York Post reports. Loeffler sent a public letter in July to WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert that criticized the league’s support for BLM and suggested putting American flags on each player’s jersey.
“The lives of each and every African American matter, and there’s no debating the fact that there is no place for racism in our country,” Loeffler wrote. “However, I adamantly oppose the Black Lives Matter political movement, which has advocated for 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.”
“I believe it is totally misaligned with the values and goals of the WNBA and the Atlanta Dream, where we support tolerance and inclusion,” she added.
In response to the letter, the WNBA Players Association demanded that Loeffler be removed, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, a demand that Engelbert denied. (RELATED: Georgia Governor Brushes Off Pro-Life Warnings Against His Potential Senate Pick As ‘Ridiculous’)
WNBA players then showed up to their Tuesday night game wearing shirts that said “Black Lives Matter” and “Vote Warnock” in support of Rev. Raphael Warnock, Loeffler’s Democratic challenger.
Clocked in. Locked in.#4TheValley pic.twitter.com/DiHJ3oGN8Q
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) August 4, 2020
“I am honored and humbled by the overwhelming support from the @WNBA players,” Warnock tweeted Tuesday evening. “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.”
I am 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. #BlackLivesMatter
— Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) August 4, 2020
Loeffler responded to the WNBA players’ support for her opponent in a statement, saying, “This is just more proof that the out of control cancel culture wants to shut out anyone who disagrees with them.”
“It’s clear that the league is more concerned with playing politics than basketball, and I stand by what I wrote in June,” she added.
Backlash over Loeffler’s statements comes after members of the pro-life movement spoke out against Loeffler in November 2019. Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp considered picking Loeffler for the Georgia Senate seat. (RELATED: Doug Collins And Kelly Loeffler Trade Blows Over Pro-Life Support As Georgia Senate Race Ramps Up)
Pro-life advocates pointed out that the WNBA has supported Planned Parenthood in the past — the nation’s largest abortion provider.
A Loeffler spokesman previously told the DCNF that though the WNBA gives money to Planned Parenthood, neither the Atlanta Dream nor Loeffler has done so. A number of the pro-life groups that previously criticized Loeffler have since endorsed the Georgia senator, who said in a May statement that “every life is a precious gift from God.”
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