Aug 5, 2020 - Sports

WNBA players escalate political protest against Sen. Kelly Loeffler

The Seattle Storm's Sue Bird wears a shirt in support of Loeffler's opponent. Photo: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

WNBA players wore T-shirts on Tuesday endorsing the Democratic opponent of Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream who has criticized the league for dedicating its season to the Black Lives Matter movement.

What's happening: The shirts had "Vote Warnock" printed on them, a reference to Atlanta pastor Raphael Warnock, one of the top Democrats running against Loeffler in a special election in November.

  • The players' union called for Loeffler's ouster last month, but WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert told CNN that the Georgia Republican, who owns 49% of the Dream, would not be forced to sell the team.

What they're saying: The idea to publicly support Warnock came from Seattle Storm legend Sue Bird, who said players quickly realized calling for Loeffler's removal was just playing into her hands, and that supporting her political opponent would be more impactful in the grand scheme of things.

  • "[V]oting is important. ... So, what a great way for us to get the word out about this man, and hopefully put him in the Senate. And, if he's in the Senate, you know who's not." Bird told ESPN.
  • "Honestly, I think that [Loeffler] wants the league to push her out. She wants that to be part of this statement that she's making that, 'Oh, Black Lives Matter is divisive. They pushed me out because they feel differently,'" added Elizabeth Williams, who plays for the Dream.

The other side: "This is just more proof that the out-of-control cancel culture wants to shut out anyone who disagrees with them," Loeffler said in a statement. "It's clear that the league is more concerned with playing politics than basketball."

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