WNBA players are not hiding their disdain for Kelly Loeffler.
The Atlanta Dream co-owner and Republican U.S. senator from Georgia has put herself at odds with the league by protesting its support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Players are responding by protesting her.
Chicago Sky players displayed their contempt for Loeffler on Tuesday by showing support for her opponent in her upcoming Senate race. As they exited the team bus en route to their matchup against the Dallas Wings, Sky players wore shirts reading “Vote Warnock.”
It was part of a larger movement seen across the WNBA as the day progressed.
Who is Warnock?
Warnock is Atlanta pastor Raphael Warnock, Loeffler’s Democratic challenger for her Senate seat this fall. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) is also running for her Senate seat that Gov. Brian Kemp appointed her to in 2019 when her predecessor Johnny Isakson resigned.
Not only did the players make a statement on Tuesday, but the official team Twitter page promoted their message.
‘Don’t boo ... VOTE’
— Chicago Sky (@chicagosky) August 4, 2020
Forward Cheyenne Parker sported her shirt in an Instagram story.
Players across WNBA join cause
Sky players weren’t alone in their support for Warnock. Elizabeth Williams — a guard for Loeffler’s Dream — showed her support on Twitter.
We are @wnba players, but like the late, great John Lewis said, we are also ordinary people with extraordinary vision. @ReverendWarnock has spent his life fighting for the people and we need him in Washington. Join the movement for a better Georgia at https://t.co/hC8iF9urak pic.twitter.com/mvN5e9m4oO
— Elizabeth Williams (@E_Williams_1) August 4, 2020
Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi wore a “Vote Warnock” shirt alongside Brittney Griner in a “Black Lives Matter” shirt as they prepared for their Tuesday matchup against the Dream.
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) August 4, 2020
Williams told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the shirts were the idea of Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird. Bird told Shelburne the idea was born out of a Zoom call among players in the league’s bubble at Florida’s IMG Academy.
“This was a situation where given what was said in regards to the owner of Atlanta, and how, basically, she came out against a lot of what the women in our league stand for, I think was emotionally tough for a lot of the women in our league to hear that,” Bird said.
“But very quickly we started to realize that this was only happening for her political gain. This was something that she wanted. And the more noise we made, whether it was a tweet saying to get her out, that was just playing into her hands.”
Loeffler has repeatedly bemoaned “cancel culture” in response to protests from WNBA players and did so again on Tuesday.
“This is just more proof that the out of control cancel culture wants to shout out anyone who disagrees with them,” a statement from Loeffler’s campaign reads. “It’s clear that the league is more concerned with playing politics than basketball.”
Loeffler maintains her status as a U.S. Senator and WNBA owner and is provided regular media platforms to voice her point of view.
Loeffler’s appeal to extremist base
Loeffler has not been shy about her disdain for Black Lives Matter as she seeks to energize her base ahead of November’s election. She’s repeatedly criticized the WNBA's bubble season dedicated to racial justice in the aftermath of George Floyd’s homicide.
She talked last week about her stance in an interview with a pundit known for his ties to white supremacy and Nazism.
WNBA players and their union have previously called for Loeffler’s ouster from the Dream’s ownership group. Now, they’re declining to say her name, instead choosing to support a man they’d rather hold that position of power in the U.S. government.
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