Seattle Storm and New York Liberty players walked off the court before the national anthem during the WNBA season opener.
What We Know:
- The WNBA previously announced that this season will be about raising awareness for social justice issues. Players wore warm up shirts that read “Say Her Name” and the league created a player-led Social Justice Council.
- Before the game, Liberty guard Layshia Clarendon and Storm forward Breanna Stewart dedicated the season to Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her home by Louisville police. “We will say her name: Sandra Bland, Atatiana Jefferson, Dominique Remy Fells, and Breonna Taylor. We will be a voice for the voiceless,” Clarendon said. The teams held a 26 second moment of silence to represent Taylor’s age when she died. Before the game, the Liberty posted a video demanding justice for Taylor.
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) July 25, 2020
- The national anthem has become a point of controversy during sports games. Over the last few years, starting with Colin Kaepernick, athletes have been kneeling more and more during the national anthem. The president and other politicians have denounced kneeling or anything “disrespectful” during the national anthem. During the MLB season opener on Thursday, players from the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees knelt to show support for ongoing protests. The Storm-Liberty game appeared to be the first time two entire sports team left the court altogether during the anthem.
- The WNBA season opener was highly anticipated for many reasons, one of which was the debut of Sabrina Ionescu. Ionescu played college basketball at the University of Oregon where she became the all-time NCAA leader in triple doubles and the only player in history to record 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds. The New York Liberty selected her with the 1st overall pick in this years WNBA draft and she contributed 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists in a loss to Seattle.
Due to the coronavirus, the WNBA is holding an abbreviated 22-game season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The environment is described as a “bubble” similar to the NBA with strict health and safety protocols.