WNBA players wore black T-shirts that read “Vote Warnock” to games on Tuesday to support Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is challenging Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) for her Senate seat.
It was a visual rebuke of Loeffler, who objected to the league’s support of the Black Lives Matter and #SayHerName movements and advocated for players to add the American flag to their jerseys.
This season, players are wearing Breonna Taylor’s on their jerseys to bring awareness to the 26-year-old emergency medical technician who was killed in her home by Louisville police.
Sue Bird, who is the WNBA Players Association vice president, came up with the idea to oppose Loeffler with T-shirts.
“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 told ESPN. “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.
“I’m not some political strategist, but what I do know is that voting is important. And I think our league has always encouraged people to use their voices and to get out and vote.
“So, what a great way for us to get the word out about this man, and hopefully put him in Senate. And, if he’s in Senate, you know who’s not. And I’ll just leave it at that.”
The WNBA players received support from 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who tweeted “I am proud of these players.”
In a statement Tuesday night, Loeffler said she remains opposed to Black Lives Matter because of its “radical ideals and Marxist foundations,” according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
“This is just more proof that the out-of-control cancel culture wants to shut out anyone who disagrees with them,” Loeffler said. “It’s clear that the league is more concerned with playing politics than basketball, and I stand by what I wrote in June.”
Storm guard Jordin Canada expressed dismay at Loeffler’s comments.
“It’s bigger than basketball,” she said. “We’re more than athletes. To have someone in our league that doesn’t represent and support African-Americans, which is 80 percent of our league, it’s just disheartening.
“This is not about politics. … We’re going to continue to support Warnock and everything that he’s trying to do because we need Kelly out of there.”