The WNBA and its player’s activism and social justice efforts don’t get the proper attention it deserves. The league is always out in front, allowing their players to make a meaningful impact in their communities. Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery used her platform as a WNBA player to shine a light on social injustice and equality issues facing black and brown people.
Montgomery’s work has been one of the many highlights of her career. The WNBA has become a better league because of Montgomery’s work and leadership on and off the court. The two-time champion is making a big career decision that is much bigger than basketball.
Renee Montgomery’s 2020 WNBA season
The WNBA season took place in the “Wubble” last year, with teams playing in Bradenton, Florida. Since it was during the coronavirus pandemic, the league gave their players the option to opt-out for the season. Montgomery decided to sit out the season, but it wasn’t because of anything COVID-19.
She decided to sit out so she can focus on her social justice initiatives. Last season occurred right in the middle of the national social awakening from George Floyd’s death. The death of Ahmad Arbery in Atlanta, Georgia, hit close to home, given she is a part of the Dream Franchise.
Montgomery believed that putting her time into activism and promoting equality was more important than playing basketball. She wasn’t the only player to do this, as her teammate Tiffany Hayes and fellow WNBA player Natasha Cloud also sat out the 2020 season to focus on activism.
“I would say that moment was when I was so busy planning everything I wanted to do for social reform that I realized I wasn’t working out or I wasn’t making time for the sport. I think that was the moment where I was like, “You know what? It’s probably better that I don’t go. Just my heart isn’t in it.” That’s how I came to the conclusion,” Montgomery said per The Ringer.
Montgomery used her time away from basketball. She has expanded her existing foundation, adding two more initiatives to it. One of them helps her community become more aware and involved in politics. The other is raising money to help improve HBCU education. She also partnered with LeBron James’ More Than A Vote campaign during the 2020 election season. Her season of working toward social justice and equality has motivated her to do so much more.
Renee Montgomery retires from the WNBA
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After 11 seasons in the WNBA, Renee Montgomery is retiring. She announced the news on her podcast show Remotely Renee. Her reason behind retirement is focusing more on her social justice efforts, citing the summer of 2020 as the turning point. Despite walking away from the game, she did say that she will be involved in basketball in some capacity.
Montgomery had an incredible career as a WNBA star. The Minnesota Lynx selected her with the fourth overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft. She also played for the Connecticut Sun, Seattle Storm, and Atlanta Dream. Montgomery received Sixth Woman of the Year honors in 2012 and was an All-Star in 2011. She won two championships, ending her career with 3,534 points and 1,140 assists. Her 532 career three-pointers are the twelfth-most in league history.
“I bought a home in Georgia nine years ago, and I retired as a member of the Atlanta Dream,” Montgomery said per the WNBA website. “I’ve always known I wanted to be here, and now I feel intertwined in the Atlanta fabric and culture. Blessed to call this home. True to Atlanta.”
Montgomery’s decision to retire is way bigger than basketball. She sees how her efforts have made a positive impact on her community and wants to continue that. During the Georgia Senate elections, her activism, along with the WNBA player’s assist to Reverend Raphael Warnock, helped him win the runoff election.
What’s Renee Montgomery’s next move?
She’s done playing basketball, but that doesn’t mean Renee Montgomery will not be around the game. She has been doing some broadcasting gigs, calling Atlanta Hawks games for FOX’s Southeast regional network. The broadcasting experience doesn’t stop there, as she has called NBA G-League games also. She could have a career as a broadcaster in her future.
Activism is the focus for Montgomery post-WNBA. She is looking to continue growing her foundation, using that to help promote the change needed in society. Her living in Atlanta will allow her to continue working with the Dream franchise if she so chooses.
The team could be looking for new owners soon, as Kelly Loeffler and Mary Brock are planning to sell the team. If she can get an ownership group together, that would be a boss move by Montgomery. She should reach out to LeBron James, who showed interest in buying the Dream franchise.
Renee Montgomery has catapulted herself into the limelight with her decision to sit out the 2020 season. She still has the skills to play, but she feels like her talents can be used in a greater capacity, impacting the fight for social justice in a positive way. Montgomery is leaving her WNBA career behind to make an impact that will reach far past the basketball court.
“She has become a powerful voice of change, and her opportunities outside of basketball are limitless,” said Dream President and General Manager Chris Sienko per 11alive.com.