Conn. Sun Prep To Play As WNBA, Ga. Senator Clash Over Black Lives Matter Movement
The Connecticut Sun continue preparations for the 2020 WNBA season despite recent controversial comments from Georgia Senator and Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the league announced plans to use this season in highlighting social justice issues.
Loeffler, a Republican, sent a letter to WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert earlier this month requesting the league distance itself from the organized movement. The letter said, in part, that supporting a "particular political agenda undermines the potential of the sport and sends a message of exclusion."
The letter was met with backlash from several players, including those on the Sun.
"People don't understand what our ancestors went through," forward DeWanna Bonner said. "So let's sit down, let's talk about it, ask the questions and let’s learn. Because that's the only way that we're going to get it out there for people to really understand."
Of the 144 players who hold roster spots in the WNBA, 80% are Black.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league will play a shortened regular season and traditional playoff format at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Sun forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said one of the league's goals is to educate people on those issues.
"What our beliefs are as individuals is that we're not just here to play basketball, but we are here to use this time to make a difference," she said.
Loeffler has since doubled down on her comments, and recently told Fox News she has no plans of stepping down as co-owner of the Atlanta franchise.
WNBA officials plan to meet with Engelbert to decide Loeffler's future in the league. The WNBA Players Association has asked that she be removed.
The Sun, who are coming off their first WNBA Finals appearance since 2005 — and will play this season without All-Star center Jonquel Jones — will open their campaign against the Minnesota Lynx on July 26.
All games will be played without fans in attendance due to the pandemic.
This report contains information from the Associated Press.