Ahead of the Seattle Storm’s Thursday night game vs. the Atlanta Dream, the Storm is making a statement.
The Storm, as well as many other WNBA players, wore black T-shirts with the words “Vote Warnock,” on them, in support of Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is challenging Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler for her Senate seat in Georgia.
The Republican co-owner of the Atlanta Dream recently came under fire when she objected to the WNBA’s plan to spread the Black Lives Matter message on uniforms.
She urged Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in a letter to ditch plans for players to wear warmup jerseys reading “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Name” and instead put an American flag on all uniforms and apparel.
Dream forward Elizabeth Williams told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that it was 11-time WNBA All-Star and three-time champion Sue Bird who came up with the idea as an alternative to discussing Loeffler’s recent statements.
Then, “Vote Warnock” shirts were born.
"This was a situation where given what was said in regards to the owner of Atlanta and how, basically, she came out against a lot of what the women in our league stand for, I think was emotionally tough for a lot of the women in our league to hear that," Bird told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. "But very quickly we started to realize that this was only happening for her political gain. This was something that she wanted. And the more noise we made, whether it was a tweet saying to get her out, that was just playing into her hands.
"I'm not some political strategist, but what I do know is that voting is important. And I think our league has always encouraged people to use their voices and to get out and vote.
"So, what a great way for us to get the word out about this man, and hopefully put him in the Senate. And, if he's in the Senate, you know who's not. And I'll just leave it at that."
The Atlanta Dream, Phoenix Mercury, LA Sparks, Minnesota Lynx and Las Vegas Aces are among teams donning the t-shirt to support Loeffler’s Democratic challenger.
Despite calls from WNBA stars urging Commissioner Engelbert to oust Loeffler from the league, Engelbert said she will not require the senator to sell her stake in the Dream.
The Storm (4-1) and Dream (2-3) will have another public show of defiance Thursday as the two teams tip off at 3:00 p.m. inside of the Wubble at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.