Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud and forward LaToya Sanders have opted out of the 2020 WNBA season, head coach Mike Thibault announced on Monday.

Cloud's decision to sit out the 2020 season, which begins in late July in Florida, is due to her commitment to raising awareness of social justice issues and the fight for racial equality.

The guard, who is the franchise's all-time assist leader, posted a lengthy caption on her Instagram account explaining why she planned to sit out the season.

"This has been one of the toughest decisions of my career. But, I will be foregoing the 2020 WNBA season," Cloud wrote. "There’s a lot of factors that led to this decision, but the biggest being that I am more than an athlete. 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. I will instead, continue the fight on the front lines for social reform, because until black lives matter, all lives can’t matter."

"We respect and support Natasha’s decision to prioritize her life and goals," Thibault said. "Her commitment to social justice issues is of utmost importance to her and, therefore, to the Mystics organization. We will continue to be partners with her and all of our players on their commitment to social justice reform as we go forward into this season and beyond." 


Cloud has been outspoken about social justice issues in America throughout her career and has been a prominent voice among D.C. athletes following the death of George Floyd on May 25. The guard wrote a lengthy letter calling for the end of silence around racism and participated in protests that followed. Last Friday, Cloud, alongside Wizards guard Bradley Beal, led the march in D.C. on Juneteenth to raise awareness for social justice issues.


Sanders' decision to skip the season was for her to do what she said is "best for my health and my family."

"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," Sanders said. "I wish my teammates and the entire Mystics family the best this season and I will continue to watch and support them."

The WNBA is set to tip off its season in late July at the IMG Academy in Florida. Both were key parts of the Mystics' championship run in the 2019 season, with Cloud tallying 18 points in the Mystics' Game 5 win over Connecticut (and having an extremely memorable moment in the Mystics' series against the Las Vegas Aces.)

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