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Mystics' Natasha Cloud, LaToya Sanders Forgo 2020 WNBA Season amid Social Unrest

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2020

Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud dribbles the ball during the second half of an WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, in Washington. The Mystics won 88-59. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

The Washington Mystics announced Monday that Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders are sitting out the 2020 WNBA season. 

In an Instagram post, Cloud said she wanted to step away in order to focus on her social activism.

"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," she wrote. "I will instead, continue the fight on the front lines for social reform, because until black lives matter, all lives can't matter."

The Mystics also shared a statement from Sanders: "This was not an easy choice to make, but after much thought and conversation I do believe it is what's best for my health and family. I wish my teammates and the entire Mystics family the best this season and I will continue to watch and support them."

Atlanta Dream star Renee Montgomery announced last Thursday she won't be suiting up for her team this year in order to continue her work away from the court:

Renee Montgomery @itsreneem_

After much thought, I’ve decided to opt out of the 2020 WNBA season. There’s work to be done off the court in so many areas in our community. Social justice reform isn’t going to happen overnight but I do feel that now is the time and Moments equal Momentum. Lets keep it going!

Cloud has been outspoken in her activism, especially in the aftermath of George Floyd's killing. She wrote an essay for The Players' Tribune (warning: link contains profanity) titled, "Your Silence Is a Knee on My Neck."

"If you're silent, I don't f--k with you, period," she said. "Because I'm just out here trying to stay alive. And your knee is on my neck."

Cloud and Montgomery's stances echo concerns from some NBA players about whether resuming the current season would take attention away from the movement and ongoing demonstrations:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Lakers' Dwight Howard in statement to @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium: "Our main objective is to raise awareness and gain transparency...Many of our fellow players are afraid to voice their concerns and are continuing to follow along with what they believe they have to." https://t.co/dfTlSPBwpV

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Kyrie on call with players: “I’m willing to give up everything I have (for social reform)," per @ShamsCharania https://t.co/nSlWOl7Bkm

Sanders alluded to the health concerns for players as well with the WNBA planning to stage games at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The state of Florida has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks and just eclipsed 100,000 total cases.

Belgian news outlet Het Nieuwsblad (h/t Albert Lee of Bullets Forever) reported reigning Finals MVP Emma Meesseman will depart Thursday for the United States.

That will be a big boost for the Mystics in their bid to repeat as WNBA champions, but Elena Delle Donne remains a big question mark. The 2019 WNBA MVP suffers from Lyme disease, so her availability during the middle of a global pandemic is far from a guarantee.

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