Tuesday afternoon ahead of their game, Atlanta Dream players wore “Vote Warnock” t-shirts supporting The Reverend Raphael G. Warnock, who is challenging Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) for her U.S. Senate seat.

The beef began in July when Senator Loeffler wrote an excoriating letter to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, voicing her displeasure with the Black Lives Matter movement. Loeffler is instead advocating for teams to add American flags to jerseys.

Black Lives Matter are painted on the courts at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. where the WNBA is staging their restart as well as the three courts at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, where the NBA is staging their restart.

“I am honored and humbled by the overwhelming support from the WNBA players. This movement gives us the opportunity to fight for what we believe in, and I stand by all athletes promoting social justice on and off the court,” said Warnock in a statement. “Senator Loeffler and those like her who seek to silence and dismiss others when they speak up for justice have planted themselves on the wrong side of history. We are in a moment of generational, transformative change, and there is no place in that movement for bigotry. We celebrate the courage and resolve of these players standing for justice, and I am proud to stand with them.”

Elizabeth Williams, forward on the Dream and other players have made a coordinated effort not to discuss Loeffler or her statements in recent weeks, and instead focused on how they could best support a candidate they felt better represented their political views.

“I think when all this stuff started happening with her, we didn’t want to feel like we were pawns,” Williams said. “We can only control so much about what the league does [in regard to Loeffler], and so for us, we wanted it to be bigger than that.

“That’s kind of been the theme of this season. So we wanted to make sure we could still keep the focus on our social justice movement, and funny enough, Rev. Warnock is somebody who supports everything that we support and just happens to be running in that seat. So it just worked out really well.”

Las Vegas Aces player Angel McCoughtry played ten seasons with the Dream and previously supported Loeffler while she played in Atlanta. However, the sentiments changed when the George Floyd murder took place, later the killing of Rayshard Brooks. McCoughtry believed the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement brought out the political chessboard. The Aces star said July 18th Loeffler is playing politics.

“As far as Kelly is concerned, I think that right now, she has not reflected what the Dream logo stands for,” McCoughtry said. “If she really did have [problems] with LGBTQ or Black Lives Matter, I don’t think she would have had us players in her home. Why do you own a WNBA team? “I think she has to play the political game to look good in front of her peers. OK, do that. If you want to play the political game, do that, but don’t include us in it.”

Loeffler said she has made the distinction between the Black Lives Matter organization, which she opposes, and saying that “Black lives [do] matter.” Loeffler wants fewer references and alliterations to politics in sports overall. But McCoughtry feels Loeffler is bringing her politics into sports.

“So that’s where I’m at with it: Leave us out of it,” McCoughtry said. “Politics over there. We talk about social injustice things; that’s not politics. That’s human rights. I don’t even know why she’s mixing the two. So, we’ll see what happens with that situation.”

Before their game on Tuesday, Atlanta Dream players wore shirts backing Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, who is hoping to unseat one of the Dream’s owners, Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, in this fall’s election. (Photo: Elizabeth Williams)

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...

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