It’s formally been over for nearly per week, nevertheless it’s by no means too late to offer the WNBA its flowers for an unbelievable 2020 season, one which shall be remembered much more for the management and influence gamers made off the court docket than for the video games on the court docket — although these have been wonderful too.
Earlier than coming into the “wubble,” confined to courts and housing at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, to reduce the danger of catching or spreading COVID-19 (one thing else they did fairly efficiently, by the best way), gamers determined to dedicate the shortened season to racial justice and significantly Breonna Taylor, the younger Black lady killed in her own residence by Louisville Law enforcement officials in March.
Say her title, they demanded. Not simply within the opening days or after the primary couple of video games, however for the whole lot of the three months they held the common season and playoffs: it was on jerseys and t-shirts, it was on courtside signage, her face was on video screens. At the trophy ceremony for the Seattle Storm, who received their fourth WNBA title with a sweep of the Las Vegas Aces, commissioner Cathy Englebert made positive to say Taylor instantly.
On no account did the efforts finish there.
Gamers have been supportive of voter registration efforts, becoming a member of with LeBron James’ “More Than a Vote” initiative and inspiring members of their communities to register, make a plan, and vote.
They joined NBA gamers in refusing to play in late August, infuriated by the capturing of one other Black man, this time Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Washington Mystics walked onto the court in white t-shirts with seven bullet holes painted on the back, representing the photographs Blake absorbed, which have left him paralyzed.
Maybe most impactful, after they have been pissed off by the bigoted phrases and actions of Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler, a U.S. Senator who had the audacity to tell the women of a majority-Black league that saying “Black lives matter” — actually, their lives matter — was political and they need to (cease us if you happen to’ve heard this earlier than) follow basketball. And she or he did so to curry favor together with her right-wing base in Georgia, and President Trump, no fan of Black ladies and athletes with the temerity to talk their minds if what they’re saying goes in opposition to him.
When Loeffler wasn’t booted out of the league, the ladies used their collective voice to do the following neatest thing: they met nearly with one of many candidates attempting to win her Senate seat, Rev. Raphael Warnock, to get a sense of his stance on key issues, and then had t-shirts printed with the words “Vote Warnock.”
In doing so, they offered Warnock with a bump in momentum and a surge in fundraising for the marketing campaign: within the three days after WNBA gamers publicly endorsed Warnock, his marketing campaign raised greater than $236,000 on-line, from 3,500 new grassroots donors; his Twitter viewers grew by almost 4,000 followers.
Warnock has since surged to the top of the polls in Georgia, the place early voting started on Monday.
These actions aren’t a complete record, nor does it embody the deeds of gamers who sat out the season to dedicate their time absolutely to causes, like Maya Moore and Renee Montgomery.
And all of this got here months after they stood up for themselves and people that may comply with them within the league, demanding and getting a vastly improved collective bargaining settlement.
Sue Chicken the GOAT
Whereas we’re handing out flowers, let’s get extra for Sue Chicken. It’s past time that she be acknowledged as one of many best basketball gamers of all time.
(Discover we didn’t say “ladies’s basketball.”)
Simply shy of her 40th birthday and in her 19th season, Chicken set a WNBA Finals document in Recreation 1 with 16 assists; she totaled 33 assists within the Storm’s three-game sweep.
She ought to have been acknowledged because the GOAT lengthy earlier than this, however there ought to be little doubt now, not with 4 Olympic gold medals, 4 WNBA championships, a dozen European championships taking part in with Russian groups, and two NCAA titles with UConn.
And it was her concept to protest Loeffler by endorsing Warnock.
There’s been a debate in Seattle in current days about who’s the best athlete within the metropolis’s historical past, as Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson stakes his declare to his first NFL MVP award together with his play to this point. There have been after all votes for Mariners Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro Suzuki.
Chicken is extra completed than all of them.
Wilson paid homage on Sunday, carrying a yellow Chicken jersey to the Seahawks’ recreation in opposition to the Vikings, and stated after main the game-winning landing drive that he felt “like Sue Bird in the clutch.”
For those who missed out since you refuse to observe, you’re in a shrinking group: television ratings were up significantly this season, proving that if you happen to air them individuals will watch, and that standing up for what really issues is not going to, as Loeffler disingenuous missives steered, harm the league.
The WNBA is over 20 years outdated, nevertheless it seems like this season it arrived.
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