Seattle calls a “media blackout,” speaking against violence and for racial dialogue instead of discussing the game.
MINNEAPOLIS – The game, showcasing half the members of U.S. Olympic team, unfolded with minimal drama. The Storm played the Minnesota Lynx tough for a half before the defending WNBA champions pulled away to win, 79-72, extending the Storm’s six-year losing streak at the Target Center to 13 games.
Afterward, the Storm became the third WNBA team in two days to call a “media blackout,” speaking against violence and for racial dialogue instead of discussing the game.
This was the Storm’s way of protesting fines the WNBA levied against New York, Indiana and Phoenix for black warmup-shirts supporting Black Lives Matter and honoring five slain Dallas police officers — $5,000 per team, plus $500 for each player. The Liberty and Fever chose this approach after their game Thursday.
“We want to stand in solidarity with our other WNBA players,” said Sue Bird, who called the fines “excessive.”
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Before the game, Bird tweeted a photo of the entire team in the locker room in solid black T-shirts. The Storm (9-15) wore their green warmups in the arena.
“We wanted to do something,” Bird said. “From a players’ standpoint, we want to stand together and support one another. It’s something everyone feels passionate about.”
Added Alysha Clark: “We all have fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins, everybody who can be in this situation. Race is a very uncomfortable topic to talk about in the United States. A lot of people don’t want to have it. But as the events have been unfolding here and in the last couple of years, there is a problem that needs to be addressed. It needs to be talked about.”
The Lynx (21-4) were the first to wear black warmup shirts, avoiding fines by clearing it with WNBA commissioner Lisa Borders and only wearing them once. Lynx players Rebekkah Brunson and Renee Montgomery asked fans to come Friday in black T-shirts. Only a few hundred in the sellout crowd of 12,124 did so.
Maya Moore, one of Minnesota’s four Olympians, and reserve forward Natasha Howard keyed a 14-2 run from late in the third quarter into the fourth that gave the Lynx a 68-51 lead. Moore scored 10 of her 21 points in the third quarter, and Howard (14 points) finished it off with back-to-back layups.
Brunson and Howard pressured Breanna Stewart, heading to her first Olympics, into 3-for-14 shooting; she scored 11 of her 18 points from the foul line.
“They’ve been the best team in our league for five years,” said Storm coach Jenny Boucek. “You have no margin for error when you play them. You have to do everything right and you can’t relax for a second, or you’re going to pay.”