Atlanta Dream Co-Owner Kelly Loeffler Criticizes Players, BLM After WNBA Protest

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 28, 2020

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., waits to speak in a television interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, March 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler, who is also a United States senator from Georgia, is once again using her platform to criticize Black Lives Matter and players on the team, this time for their refusal to play this week in protest after the shooting of Jacob Blake by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Aug. 23. 

Per Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Loeffler addressed the WNBA protest after a political rally in Cobb County.  

"I tend to believe that walking away from problems and walking away from a dialogue is not the right approach," she said. "Walking away from that moment prevents us from having those important dialogues."

Loeffler also criticized Black Lives Matter as a movement about "defunding the police and radically changing America." 

"I don't think they have a place in sports," she added. "Sports need to be about unity and bringing us together.”

As part of the WNBA's return-to-play agreement with players in July, Black Lives Matter has been displayed on the court during games at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. 

Loeffler voiced her displeasure about that decision in a letter written to WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert, via ESPN.com:

"I adamantly oppose the Black Lives Matter political movement, which has advocated for the defunding of police, called for the removal of Jesus from churches and the disruption of the nuclear family structure, harbored anti-Semitic views, and promoted violence and destruction across the country. I believe it is totally misaligned with the values and goals of the WNBA and the Atlanta Dream, where we support tolerance and inclusion."

The letter also said putting the American flag on player jerseys would be a "common-sense" solution. 

Loeffler's letter caused a rift between her and players in the league. The Dream released a statement July 10 on Twitter signed by all 13 of their players:    

Atlanta Dream @AtlantaDream

Glory Johnson’s signature was incorrectly left off of this statement. She contributed to it, stands by it and her signature should also be at the end of it. https://t.co/BMUcHj8sRH

On Aug. 4, players across the WNBA wore "Vote Warnock" T-shirts in reference to Loeffler's opponent, Rev. Raphael Warnock, for the U.S. Senate seat in the 2020 election:

Chicago Sky @chicagosky

Don't boo...VOTE 🗳 Register to vote at https://t.co/zXnPqmFZQ7 #Vote2020 https://t.co/4yMmEqgXMS

Despite pushback from Dream players and throughout the WNBA, Loeffler has stated she doesn't intend to sell her stake in the organization.