BRADENTON, FL – The opening tip-off for the kickoff of the 2020 WNBA season hadn’t even taken place before it made a statement, as the New York Liberty and Seattle Storm players walked off the court before the playing of the National Anthem. Both teams respectfully left the court and went to their locker room.
The walk-off was a planned part of the league’s season-long initiative called the Justice Movement that the league and its players’ association (WNBPA) had announced earlier in July. Through this and other coordinated actions, the organizers of the movement hope to to be a driving force of necessary and continuing conversations about race, voting rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and gun control amongst other important societal issues,” according to a statement from the league.
“We’re dedicating this season to Breonna Taylor, an outstanding EMT who was murdered over 130 days ago in her home,” said New York Liberty player Layshia Clarendon, who is one of the leaders of the initiative as well as WNBPA vice president. “We will say her name.”
Earlier before the game tipped off, the teams also observed a 26-second moment of silence in honor of Taylor, one second for each year of her life. The league is also dedicating its season to the “Say Her Name” campaign, which is committed to fighting for social justice for Black women. Among those they are fighting for is Sandra Bland, who died in police custody in a Dallas jail in 2015.
Seattle ended up winning the game 87-71.