Four current WNBA players have decided to sit out 2020’s, 22-game WNBA season to be held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Two players, Atlanta Dream vet Renee Montgomery and Washington Mystics star Natasha Cloud have done it to focus on the fight against police brutality and social injustice.
The NBA talked a good game, but none of its major players are expected to sit out the Disney Bubble season for social justice purposes.
Washington’s Davis Bertans, 27, is on the cusp of a lucrative, long-term contract and has had two previous ACL injuries. The Wizards aren’t serious contenders so with his injury history, the COVID-19 threat, and a huge bag looming, he will sit this out.
Portland Trailblazers veteran Trevor Ariza is sitting out because he doesn’t agree with the league’s extensive health and safety protocols for the bubble environment, which mandates that no guests or family members will be allowed in Orlando until after the first round of the playoffs is complete.
Due to a custody situation, Ariza will instead stay home to care for his son. We can’t knock it, but it doesn’t fall under a boycott to focus on social injustice issues.
— ADifferentLenz (@DifferentLenz) June 23, 2020
Kyrie Irving, Dwight Howard, and the NBA’s Players Coalition got raked through the coals by some media members and players for suggesting that the league boycott the season to focus on police brutality and racial injustice platforms, ensuring that the NBA owners are supportive of the players’ deep concerns.
WNBA players have stood tall and sacrificed personal financial gain in order to keep the energy that the world has displayed during the past few months alive.
WNBA legend Maya Moore set the tone.
She sacrificed her career to fight for the release of a falsely convicted inmate. She’s taking her second consecutive season off to focus on the release of Jonathan Irons.
Once the coronavirus hit and images of slain Black bodies started appearing all over social media, the horrible reality of how police treated people of color finally made white people understand why Kap kneeled. And why Maya quit at her peak to fry bigger fish.
Renee Montgomery took her permanent knee on the sidelines in order to continue to fight social injustice and keep the momentum going in Black America’s fight for change since the George Floyd killing and subsequent worldwide protests.
Then Washington Mystics players LaTonya Sanders and Natasha Cloud took a knee on the season.
TWO WNBA players (@itsreneem_ @T_Cloud4) on the @ESPYS pre-show on social. This is exposure the @WNBA deserves & diversity fans don’t know they need. I have a feeling @elleduncanESPN had something to do with this..always bringing others with her👏🏽🖤✊🏽 #ESPYS pic.twitter.com/by6wFM8Ndh
— LaChina Robinson (@LaChinaRobinson) June 22, 2020
Sanders cited health concerns. Natasha Cloud has been a vocal social activist and very active in the NBA’s community and race-based initiatives.
On Monday, June 22, she announced on social media that she’ll be sitting out the 2020 season in order to continue fighting for social justice.
“There’s a lot of factors that led to this decision,” Cloud said on Instagram. “But the biggest being that I am more than an athlete. I have a responsibility to myself, to my community, and to my future children to fight for something that is much bigger than myself and the game of basketball. I will instead, continue the fight on the front lines for social reform because, until black lives matter, all lives can’t matter.”
Cloud, 28, said she wants to focus on social justice issues, much like Atlanta guard Montgomery.
Washington coach and general manager Mike Thibault voiced support for both Cloud and Sanders.
“We respect and support Natasha’s decision to prioritize her life and goals,” Thibault said. “Her commitment to social justice issues is of utmost importance to her and, therefore, to the Mystics organization. We will continue to be partners with her and all of our players on their commitment to social justice reform as we go forward into this season and beyond.
“We understand and respect LaToya’s decision and will miss her both on and off the court as we head toward the upcoming season. She has been a big part of our success over the last several years, and we look forward to her continuing to contribute for us in 2021.”
Jaquel Jones is also passing on the season. Jones finished in third place in the MVP voting last season, lead the Connecticut Suns in scoring and helped lead them to the Finals for the first time since 2005.
Her loss is huge for the team, and while Jones opted out for “health reasons,” due to coronavirus numbers surging in Florida, not playing frees up her schedule to contribute to the fight against social injustice.
Wonder who’s next to really take that plunge. So far only Montgomery and Cloud have specifically mentioned social injustice as the reason they are sitting.