Prominent WNBA, NBA Players, Other Athletes Try To Unite In Wake Of Shooting Tragedies
Members of the WNBA N.Y. Liberty yesterday "made a statement prior to their game" against the San Antonio Stars "by wearing T-shirts supporting" last week's shooting victims across the U.S., according to John Healy of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The front of the shirts "read #BlackLivesMatter and #Dallas5." On the back "was a hashtag with an empty line, insinuating another name awaits unless something is done to curb the violence in the country" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/11). Liberty F Swin Cash said it is “not a moment, it’s a movement.” Liberty players said that the T-shirts "are a conversation-starter." Cash: "It’s always been very taboo to mix politics or social issues with athletes because they always talk about how economically it could affect you" (NEWSDAY, 7/11). In N.Y., Seth Berkman notes the coordinated effort "was a rare spontaneous public stance on a social issue for a team in the WNBA." Cash said that the players "did not fear repercussions or fines from the league." Liberty G Shavonte Zellous added that she thought WNBA players "were finally beginning to feel comfortable addressing social issues" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/11).
SHOW OF SUPPORT: In Minneapolis, Jim Paulsen notes Minnesota Lynx Gs Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen, and Fs Rebekkah Brunson and Maya Moore held a news conference before Saturday’s game against the Dallas Wings "in a show of support for the victims and families of the high-profile shootings" in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas. The four players "took seats on the dais in the Target Center media room wearing T-shirts that read 'Change Starts With Us, Justice and Accountability' on the front and the names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, the logo for the Dallas Police Department and Black Lives Matter on back." The team "wore the T-shirts during pregame warmups." Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said, “I’ve got four captains that understand what we do is more than sports. They understand they have a voice, have a platform, which they feel very fortunate to have. In order to enact change, when you see an injustice, you can’t stand idly by. I think it was very thoughtful of them and, as usual" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/10).
STAR POWER: In N.Y., Ebenezer Samuel noted Knicks F Carmelo Anthony on Friday "delivered an Instagram plea for athletes to 'take action' and place 'pressure on the people in charge." If he "is serious about both things, then these upcoming Olympics need to be about more than winning some utterly useless gold disc in a flex of hoops muscle." These Olympics "offer a chance for Anthony to make a statement, and a poignant one if he can convince the rest of the U.S. hoops team to stand alongside him." Whatever they do, they "can send a strong message to both U.S. citizens and the government about their feelings on the current nightmare." Forty-eight years ago, Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ momentary gesture at the '68 Summer Games "rocked everyone, a stunning, unforgettable move to step outside Olympic custom." If the biggest celebrities of Rio "make noise, their message will be just as loud" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/10). In Boston, Ron Borges asked, "So what can Carmelo Anthony or Tom Brady or LeBron James or Tony Romo do? Stand up, speak the whole truth and see what happens. It’s worth a try" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/10).
TRUE COLORS: In Montreal, Stu Cowan notes when asked about the racial tension surrounding the recent shootings, Serena Williams "answered the question thoughtfully and emotionally." She said, "I feel anyone in my colour in particular is of concern. I do have nephews that I’m thinking, Do I have to call them and tell them: ‘Don’t go outside. If you get in your car, it might be the last time I see you.’ ... We have to learn that we have to love one another. It’s going to take a lot of education and a lot of work, I think, to get to that point" (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 7/11). In Chicago, Phil Thompson noted Patriots TE Martellus Bennett "posted an ode to black boys along with an illustration on his Instagram account." At The Players' Tribune's request, he "rewrote and expanded on the theme in a letter that starts 'Dear Black Boy' posted to the site Thursday." He wrote, "The game of life is the one game they don’t think we can win, but this must be the greatest game ever played" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/9).