Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery has conquered the basketball court both in the WNBA and before that at the University of Connecticut. But last month, Montgomery decided there was a bigger battle to be contested, so she made the decision to opt out of the 2020 WNBA season in order to focus on racial and social justice.
Little did she know her first major battle would put her on the opposite side of her own team owner.
Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler, who is also a Republican Senator from Georgia, made waves Tuesday when she sent a letter to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert urging the league to put American flags on the jerseys for the league’s restart rather than the planned anti-racism messages “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Name” (a reference to the recent killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville).
That prompted a rebuke from the WNBA Players Association, who tweeted in response to Loeffler: “E-N-O-U-G-H! O-U-T!”
Montgomery, who won WNBA championships with the Minnesota Lynx in 2015 and 2017 before signing a multiyear contract with Atlanta in 2018, also shared her disappointment with Loeffler on Tuesday. She tweeted, “I’m pretty sad to see that my team ownership is not supportive of the movement & all that it stands for.” Montgomery also suggested the two could have a conversation about the topic.
Loeffler doubled down on her stance during an interview with Laura Ingraham on Wednesday night, telling the Fox News host that Black Lives Matter “is based on Marxist principles” that threatens to “destroy” America. The Senator also called the BLM group “anti-Semitic and doesn’t support the nuclear family.” Loeffler said she will not give up her ownership stake in the Dream despite players and the union calling on her to do so.
And so Friday, after receiving no response to her invitation for a conversation, Montgomery penned a letter to Loeffler in Medium.
“Your comments hurt deeply because it was a veiled ‘All Lives Matter’ response,” Montgomery wrote. “It’s not that you’re tone deaf to the cry for justice, but you seemingly oppose it. And you are speaking from a position of immense influence as a team co-owner in our league and as a U.S. Senator.
After making analogies to murdered civil rights activist Medgar Evers and Australian Aborigines, Montgomery then tried to appeal to Loeffler on a personal level.
“Imagine your friend overwhelmed with grief, tears flowing down her cheeks, confiding in you that she has breast cancer. How good of a friend would you be if you crossed your arms and replied, ‘All cancers matter?’
“This year, I don’t need more friends who tell me, ‘Everyone matters.’ I already know that. I need someone to tell me, ‘You, Renee, matter.’ “
Loeffler faces a tough re-election contest in November, and Montgomery said she understood the Senator’s attempts to appeal to her base, but she took affront to Loeffler’s insistence that sports shouldn’t mingle with politics.
“I kindly invite you to rethink your stance and join a discussion with me,” Montgomery concluded. “While you might very well be on the ‘right’ side of this November’s elections, you are on the wrong side of history if you can’t see that Black Lives Matter.”
You can read Montgomery’s letter in full here.