Wednesday night was much bigger than the game of basketball, or sports in general.
For the Minnesota Lynx and the rest of the WNBA, they protested the triple-header of WNBA games on Wednesday in response to Sunday’s shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc. by boycotting the slate of contests in Florida.
The decision to protest the games followed the lead initiated by the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic of the NBA — and later the entirety of Wednesday’s NBA playoff games — and shortly after trickled down to the WNBA and a few MLB games as well.
“The way people handle African Americans in this country, specifically police officers, is not OK,” Lynx guard Lexie Brown said after shootaround Wednesday morning. “You see what happened recently with a black man and the public outrage. The public should be outraged, but we are still forgetting Breonna Taylor still. Her killers have still not been brought to justice. I don’t think her name has been forgotten, but it’s not on the forefront. It’s up to us to bring that to the forefront so she gets the justice she deserves.”
Minnesota head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve was scheduled to meet with the media pregame about an hour and a half before Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Sparks, as she normally does. But that availability was delayed as the Lynx and the rest of the league decided how they would protest on Wednesday.
About an hour before tip-off between Minnesota and Los Angeles — originally scheduled for 7 p.m. CT — it was reported by ESPN that the three WNBA games would still be played, with each team deciding to pause at the seven-minute mark of each quarter to protest and draw attention to Blake and the seven times he was shot in the back.
Just minutes later, the four teams at the arena in Florida — Minnesota, Los Angeles, Washington Mystics and Atlanta Dream — stood united when they locked arms at center court and kneeled on the court in a powerful statement, officially boycotting the slate of games around the WNBA on Wednesday.
After the show of unity on the court, Atlanta center Elizabeth Williams made a statement on behalf of the players and coaches in the WNBA, stating why the teams felt it wouldn’t be right to play their games as originally scheduled.
On Wednesday night, Reeve shared a passionate and emotional statement with media following the league’s powerful display and stance to not play its originally scheduled games, adding she knew once the NBA made its stand that the WNBA would likely follow suit on Wednesday.
“Our commitment is to use our voices to make meaningful change,” a tearful Reeve said. “What we know is, despite being here in the bubble, things haven’t changed much outside of the bubble. The depth of the pain that our players and coaches are feeling is indescribable. I told our players how proud I was of them. It takes a great deal of courage to take these steps that we feel were necessary. Something has to change. … They are committed that things must change.
“What (the players) don’t care about is playing basketball. They don’t care about playing basketball. That’s the takeaway,” Reeve continued. “Those that have their minds on basketball, they don’t get it. (The players) are focused on what can we do to help our communities and to help our families so we can live safely. … This is what they love to do. In some ways it’s an escape, but I don’t even think it’s that anymore.”