WNBA players have been outspoken about social injustice and racial inequality for some time. That’s why after Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler issued her statement against the Black Lives Matter movement in June, she became one of the players’ biggest enemies.
Players for the Dream and Phoenix Mercury showed up to Tuesday’s nationally televised game wearing shirts that said “Vote Warnock.” Rev. Raphael Warnock is the democratic challenger running against Loeffler for her Georgia senate seat.
Loeffler, 49, was sworn into office on Jan. 6, 2020 to replace Johnny Isakson, who resigned at the end of 2019 due to health reasons. She is running against Warnock in a special Senate election on Nov. 3.
It’s not just members of the Dream, either. Players across the league are sporting the shirts.
Loeffler first made waves last month after speaking against the WNBA’s plan to allow players to wear “Black Lives Matter” on their jerseys. She sent a letter to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert that urged players to put an American flag on all uniforms and apparel instead of “Black Lives Matter” or “Say Her Name.”
Since taking the stance, Sony and Target have distanced themselves from her campaign, and the WNBA has continued to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Loeffler issued a statement on Tuesday morning and doubled down on her message.
“This is just more proof that the out of control cancel culture wants to shut out anyone who disagrees with them,” part of Loeffler’s statement read. “It’s clear that the league is more concerned with playing politics than basketball, and I stand by what I wrote in June.”
In June, Loeffler wrote: “The lives of every African American matter, and there’s no place for racism in our country. But I oppose the BLM political organization due to its radical ideas and Marxist foundations, which include defunding the police and eroding the nuclear family.”
Warnock said that he is “honored and humbled” by the WNBA’s support, and that he stands by athletes promoting social justice.
The battle between Loeffler and the Dream is the latest between owners and players in sports. Donald Sterling with the Clippers and Jerry Richardson of the Panthers are recent examples of former owners who stepped down after creating racial tension.
With her fractured relationship with the Dream and WNBA in general, Loeffler may not be a co-owner of the franchise for much longer.