Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud spoke for her team Friday night after their loss to the Seattle Storm and was the only player who did, following through on her promise for a “media blackout.”
“We’re talking about the loss of a game. There’s a lot more losses going on within our community, especially within this community, Ward 8,” Cloud said. “So we as a team want to only bring light to the issues going on within this community, and that is the violence around kids going to school.”
Before Friday’s game against the Storm, Cloud said she and the team had decided she “will be speaking for the entire team” tonight and would not be taking any basketball questions.
Cloud’s stand came after she announced on Instagram Thursday night that she was upset about recent gun violence incidents at Hendley Elementary School, which is less than two miles from where the Mystics practice and play.
Hendley Elementary was placed on lockdown Wednesday as a bullet went through the upper lobby window -- the second shooting incident in two weeks. As a result, the school’s field day was canceled.
Cloud then took to Instagram and her more than 24,000 followers to challenge Ward 8 representative Trayon White and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to talk to her and make a change.
"Our kids can't even feel safe to go to school right now!" Cloud said. "What are we doing?"
She continued, "And let me tell you something else, Tray, Mayor Bowser. If I don't get a response by tomorrow morning with a solution and/or a sit-down for a solution, because y'all have had a month now to figure this out, we have a rematch of the WNBA Finals tomorrow (June 14th). I will be sure to use all of my media privileges as a blackout and I will only discuss this topic until it gets fixed."
The Mystics' organization said in a statement it "respects the right of our players to speak out in a manner that promotes positive dialogue."
“Together, we aspire to work with civil leaders and elected officials to find ways to better the communities where we play,” the team said before the game.
“Mayor Bowser went to the community on Thursday evening to meet with community leaders, their MPD Captain and outreach staff to discuss their concerns and talk about recent incidents. That dialogue will continue as we work to end the senseless violence that has been fueled by the unfortunate presence of too many illegal guns," the mayor's office said in a statement.
Head coach Mike Thibault said postgame that his “only comment” about it is that the team wants to be “part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
“So if we’re going to have our players talk about it and they want to talk about it, then my thoughts to them is that you have to follow up and be part of the process, to do those things. We’re here in Ward 8 to be a part of the community, and we’re having those kids from the schools come here … That’s got to be an ongoing thing, that cannot be a one-off thing,” Thibault added.
The Washington Wizards couldn't continue their winning ways against the Orlando Magic on Sunday, falling despite an admirable comeback attempt.
Here are the game's top three moments.
Brad Beal injury scare
Bradley Beal has been on a scoring tear of late, notching consecutive 44-point outputs against the Celtics and Timberwolves. But before he could really get going Sunday night, he had an injury scare after rolling his right ankle.
Beal is far and away the most important player on the roster given John Wall's long rehab from an achilles injury, so an ankle injury would seriously hinder the Wizards chances at staying in games. Thankfully, he stayed out on the court and almost orchestrated an admirable fourth quarter comeback with some smooth shooting from deep. His 34 points were a game high.
Boost from the Bench
The Wizards have plenty of offensive contributors in the starting five, and on the bench. The second unit trio of CJ Miles, Moritz Wagner and Davis Bertans produced 48 points on the night. Miles was feeling it from deep, going 6-7 from behind the arc to offset some shooting troubles from Troy Brown Jr., who had two points on 1-5 FGM.
Despite only combining for eight points on the night, Brown Jr. was able to connect with rookie Rui Hachimura for a highlight-reel alley-oop.
Local Product Markelle Fultz seals the game
D.C. native and Dematha alum Markelle Fultz seems to be settling into the Orlando Magic offense. With 19 points, a career-high two 3-pointers and some great transition basketball, Fultz terrorized the Wizards backcourt all night long. Although it's clear this roster wasn't built for defense, the strategy of leaving Fultz wide open for uncontested threes certainly backfired.
Beal, on an impressive shooting hot streak down the stretch and only down three with under a minute to go, has his kickout pass deflected by Fultz, who then sealed the game with a dunk over Bertans on the other end.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS:
Rookie sensation Rui Hachimura has been an inside menace for opposing forwards early in his fledgling NBA career. That didn't change against the Orlando Magic on Sunday night.
The first dunk came off a beautifully crafted pick and roll with Troy Brown Jr., who lobbed it up for a Hachimura alley-oop. Some great chemistry from the young guys there.
The Japanese international is averaging 13.8 ppg and 5.7 rpg through his first 10 games, shooting an efficient 50.8% from the field during that stretch. More offensive athleticism like this will do well to take a load off Bradley Beal's shoulders. Beal scored back-to-back 44-point games in a Boston loss and win against Minnesota, but will need more help from his teammates if the Wizards want to improve on their 3-7 record. He scored 13 points in the first half versus Orlando.
The No. 9 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft has been a matchup headache for defenders with his combination of size and speed. Deployed at the four, he's been both too fast for bigger defenders and too strong for smaller defenders.
Here's to hoping for more Hachimura dunks in the games ahead!
MORE WIZARDS NEWS: