The WNBA is one of the better sports leagues at taking a stance on social justice causes. The players are allowed to speak out and support various movements without internal backlash. They always are at the forefront of being active in changing their communities and promoting equality for all. Things became interesting when one of their own began to disagree with what movements the league supported.
Kelly Loeffler is the Co-Owner of the Atlanta Dream franchise, along with Mary Brock. Loeffler disagreed with the WNBA supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Her disapproval of the league’s backing of this movement sparked anger and disappointment amongst current and former players. As the league enters the new league year, they will almost be complete exiling one of their own.
Kelly Loeffler faces backlash over her BLM comments
Loeffler is a co-owner of the Dream franchise, but she is (or was) the republican senator for Georgia. She didn’t win an election to get it; Brian Kemp appointed her in 2019. She has been an avid supporter of Donald Trump, who has also spoken out against the BLM movement. Loeffler wrote her comments in a letter to WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert.
She denounced the political views of BLM during a summer where social justice was at an all-time high. George Floyd’s and Breona Taylor’s murders while in police custody was the source of all the outrage. WNBA players supported the BLM movement and were active in protests and services trying to shed light on police brutality amongst African Americans. When players heard Leoffler’s comment’s about the BLM, the backlash was swift and forceful.
“Kelly Loeffler is the anti-movement,” Layshia Clarendon said in a piece she wrote for The Undefeated. Calrendon has played for the Dream and is the first vice president of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association. Other WNBA players shared similar sentiments. The league’s player union tweeted that Loeffler be out of the WNBA. The criticism was so fierce; she clarified her statements in an interview with ESPN.
The damage was already done. The players realized Loeffler had to be removed or sell her stake of the team. She didn’t represent what has league has stood for all these years. That is when they came up with an idea that helped take Loeffler down.
The WNBA players help beat Loeffler at her own game
Because her seat was appointed, Loeffler needed to be re-elected to keep her Senate seat. She was going against Raphael Warnock, the Democratic candidate. The WNBA players did their research on Reverend Warnock and liked his political policies. Of all their assists during the 2020 season, the one they did for Warnock was their best.
During their season in the “Wubble,” players wore shirts that read “Vote Warnock” on them. They wanted to help raise his political profile before the special election in November. The WNBA openly supported an opposing candidate one of their owners is running against. That doesn’t usually happen in sports leagues.
The assist the WNBA players made gave Warnock a noticeable boost in terms of popularity and acknowledgment. The league also helped raise money for Warnock’s campaign. He said he received $183,00 in donation 48 hours after they wore the shirts supporting him, per The Washington Post.
With the momentum of the WNBA and other political figures, Warnock was able to force a runoff election in January. The Atlanta Dream players supported him more, and the movement to get people registered to vote. In the runoff election, Warnock defeated Loeffler. He will become Georgia’s first black Senator and end Loeffler’s term.
Kelly Loeffler “on the verge” of selling” Dream ownership stake
There was no word on if Loeffler would sell her ownership stake in the Atlanta Dream franchise after her election loss to Warnock up until this point. However, it does seem like her and Brock will sell the Dream team.
Brock and Loeffler are reportedly “on the verge” of selling the team, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A spokesperson of the WNBA later confirmed that the selling of the team is being finalized.
“As it relates to the Atlanta Dream, we understand a sale of the franchise is close to being finalized. Once the sale negotiation is concluded, additional information will be provided,” the spokesperson said per Bleacher Report.
The purchasers’ identity is unknown, along with the buying price and whether the team is staying in Atlanta. NBA superstar LeBron James showed interested in buying the Dream, tweeting about it after Loeffler’s loss. MLB star Mookie Betts replied with his desire to be included in the ownership group. That would be a colossal move by King James.
With her stake of the Dream in the process of being sold, Loeffler’s time in the WNBA is almost over. She didn’t do much nowadays, stepping down from the board of governors and 2019. She hasn’t been involved in the day-to-day actives, per the WNBA. Nevertheless, the once Georgia Senator and Co-Owner of the Atlanta Dream will have lost both titles, primarily because of her player’s involvement.