WNBA Rescinds Fines for Players Wearing Black Warm-Up Shirts

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2016

FILE - In this Wednesday, July 13, 2016 file photo, members of the New York Liberty basketball team await the start of a game against the Atlanta Dream, in New York. The WNBA has fined the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and Indiana Fever and their players for wearing plain black warm-up shirts in the wake of recent shootings by and against police officers. All three teams were fined $5,000 and each player was fined $500. While the shirts were the Adidas brand - the official outfitter of the league - WNBA rules state that uniforms may not be altered in any way. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

The WNBA fined the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and Indiana Fever on Thursday along with players on those teams for wearing black warm-up shirts following the recent social tension involving actions by and against police officers around the country.

However, WNBA president Lisa Borders announced on Saturday that the fines have been rescinded. The WNBA provided a statement from Borders:


.@WNBAPrez, Lisa Borders statement on recent team and player uniform violation fines. https://t.co/RJMZHQ0htL

Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press reported Thursday each team initially received a $5,000 fine, while the individual players were each docked $500. At the time, Borders stated the decision was based on the failure to comply with "uniform guidelines," not the decision to serve as advocates.

Borders' previous statement to the AP read: "We are proud of WNBA players' engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues but expect them to comply with the league's uniform guidelines."

Tina Charles of the Liberty responded to the news on social media:

Tina Charles @tinacharles31

I refuse to be silent @WNBA https://t.co/INIAI1rSIF

Mercury forward Mistie Bass also reacted to the initial decision:

Mistie Bass @A_Phoenix_Born

Don't say we have a voice and then fine us because we use it. #notpuppets #cutthestrings

After the teams wore plain black shirts for recent pregame activities, the league sent out a memo this week reminding players they weren't allowed to alter uniforms, according to the AP.

The original fines came after a dispute between the Minnesota Lynx and members of the local police force who signed up to provide security at the team's game on July 9. Four off-duty officers walked off the job after the team wore warm-up gear supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

Tim Harlow and Randy Furst of the Star Tribune confirmed through Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis president Lt. Bob Kroll that the sides eventually reached an agreement for the officers to return to provide security at the Target Center.

The Lynx were not among the teams previously fined for their actions.

Reena Flores of CBS News noted that President Barack Obama wrote an open letter to the law enforcement community to show support after the recent deadly shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, stating: "Any attack on police is an unjustified attack on all of us."

There have been protests this month following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in police shootings.

NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James discussed the issues with a speech at the ESPYs last week, urging, "We all have to do better."