Players from the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty made a social justice statement before tip-off of the opening game of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
During the playing of the national anthem, players from both teams left the court and entered their respective locker rooms, where they held a 26-second moment of silence dedicated to the life of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year old African-American woman who was shot to death by police officers while asleep in her apartment on March 13.
Liberty point guard Layshia Clarendon spoke at mid-court flanked by the Storm’s Breanna Stewart. Clarendon dedicated the WNBA season to Taylor’s memory, as well as to the “Say Her Name” campaign, which commemorates black women who died in the fight for justice.
Clarendon also mentioned the names of other prominent black female victims of violence in recent years, such as Sandra Bland, Atatiana Jefferson and Dominique Remy Fells.
CBS Evening News
Taylor’s full name was printed on the back of both teams’ jerseys during the opening game, as well as the names of other female victims of police brutality, such as Vanessa Guillen and Sandra Bland.
Stewart Propels Storm, Ionescu Underwhelming in Debut
Stewart, who was the Most Valuable Player of both the regular season as well as the Finals in 2018, led the way for the Storm’s 87-71 trouncing of the Liberty, with 18 points, eight rebounds, and four steals.
This was Stewart’s first game since the Finals of 2018. In 2019, Stewart was sidelined all season due to an Achilles tendon tear that she sustained during the Euroleague Women championship in April 2019. Assisting Stewart was Jewell Loyd, who scored 14 points and Sue Bird, who poured in 11 points and five assists. Bird also missed the entirety of last season to a knee injury.
Sabrina Ionescu’s highly anticipated WNBA debut was underwhelming. The number 1 pick from this year’s draft, finished with 12 points in an inefficient scoring night for her: 4 of 17 from the field, 0 for 8 on the three-point line and coughing up the ball four times.
Clarendon put up a fight for the Liberty with 20 points, but her teammates were unable to give her the support needed for a victory.
It will be interesting to see as the season progresses how teams respond to the National Anthem!