Kelly Loeffler is now out of the Georgia Senate after being defeated by Rev. Raphael Warnock in the runoff election on Jan. 5. After this historic election, sports fans are wondering what will happen to Loeffler’s ownership of Atlanta’s WNBA team, the Atlanta Dream.
Loeffler has been with the Dream since 2010, but players and fans began to push for her to sell her stake in the team over the summer. Amid nationwide protests against racial injustice, Loeffler sent a letter to the league that denounced its support of the Black Lives Matter movement. WNBA players responded by rejecting Loeffler’s letter.
The former Senator replied by vowing that she would not sell her 49 percent stake in the team and affirmed that she would return next season. After Loeffler’s statement, players came together to determine a way to boycott the owner by shifting their focus to Raphael Warnock.
During the WNBA’s “bubble” season, players from across the WNBA wore t-shirts that read “Vote Warnock” before games. The idea came after a small leadership group had a discussion with Seattle Storm all-star and social activist, Sue Bird.
I’m not a political strategist. Who am I? Who are any of us in the WNBA to get into any kind of verbal spat about politics with her? Why would we do that? We kind of took that part out of it and redirected all of our energy and support into Reverend Warnock, and it got us back in line with what we got into that bubble season for anyway — to talk about Black Lives Matter, to talk about ‘Say Her Name,’ to encourage people to vote.Sue Bird on her idea to wear t-shirts in support of Warnock [Source: The Washington Post]
In three days after the initial debut of support from the WNBA, Warnock surpassed Loeffler in polls. According to The Washington Post, “Warnock’s campaign also raised more than $236,000 and added nearly 4,000 followers on Twitter.” The WNBA’s support of Warnock overall contributed greatly to his ability to defeat Loeffler in the Senate runoff.
Since Loeffler’s defeat, many people are wondering what will become of her ownership in a league that does not want her. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert stated over the summer that she would not force Loeffler to sell her stake, but the WNBA players’ union has made it clear that it does not want her to own the team any longer.
According to The New York Times, “The majority owner of the team, Mary Brock, has been exploring a sale of the Dream, but it is unclear how far those discussions have gone. It is also unclear what role Loeffler has in those negotiations or whether her stake would be part of a sale.” In August it was also reported that former NBA player Baron Davis was part of an investment group that was interested in buying the team.
The league is aware that discussions with potential buyers are ongoing. Once those negotiations are concluded, additional information will be provided.Cathy Engelbert, WNBA Commissioner, on the potential sale of the Atlanta Dream [Source: The New York Times]
NBA player LeBron James has also expressed interest in buying the Dream. He posted on Twitter early Wednesday morning stating, “Think I’m gone put together an ownership group for the The Dream. Whose in? #BlackVotesMatter.”
James is a winner on the court, but he has also become one of the NBA’s leading voices in speaking out against racial injustice and police brutality. Prior to the US presidential election, he helped promote voter registration by creating the organization “More Than A Vote” in an effort to combat voter suppression.
As Loeffler still remains a member of the WNBA community, it is obvious that she is has faced backlash with the league’s players. Overall, the future of the Atlanta Dream’s ownership is unclear, but it is evident that Loeffler may not be involved for much longer.