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WNBA player defends protests over police brutality amid Trump criticism

WNBA player defends protests over police brutality amid Trump criticism
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Nneka Ogwumike, a Los Angeles Sparks player and president of the Women's National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA), defended professional athletes’ decisions to boycott recent games in protest of police brutality after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. 

“As athletes, we would be discrediting our essence if we didn't use that platform for good and for change,” Ogwumike said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

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Her comments came in response to President Trump derisively referring to the NBA as a “political organization” after players spoke out about police brutality and boycotted games. He added that the players' actions were “not a good thing.” 

Ogwumike said on Sunday, however, that the issues “shouldn’t be political.” 

“A lot of what we speak about, it shouldn't be political, but, unfortunately, the way that our country has kind of evolved, certain issues, certain human issues, have become political,” she added. “We are black women in the WNBA. A majority of us are black women, and, inherently, we are political, as we deal with racism and sexism.”

Sue Bird, a Seattle Storm player and the vice president of the WNBPA, similarly pushed back on criticism of players boycotting games. 

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"We heard some politicians don't like it when the sports world speaks out on social issues. What do you say to those critics?" NBC's Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddHHS secretary: Avoiding large gatherings 'a difficult message for all Western democracies' Trump bashes NBC ahead of town hall, adds it's 'a free hour on television' Chuck Todd indirectly refers to former colleague Olbermann as 'somebody from the very far left' of the media world MORE asked Bird on "Meet the Press."

"I mean, for me as a female athlete, the one thing that I've come to realize is we're judged on everything except our sport," Bird replied.

"We've been judged because we're Black, gay, because we're women. Nobody talks about us playing. So you fast-forward, you know, 10, 20 years of this, and we've developed an identity, and we're being authentic to it. And so for us, when people say stick to sports, it's kind of like, 'Yeah, 20 years ago we tried, and you wouldn't let us, and now you're saying that?' So it makes no sense to me," she added. 

The WNBA has often taken a stance against police brutality, with players sharing the message of the Black Lives Matter movement. The WNBA dedicated its first weekend of games this season to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Following the shooting of Blake, athletes across professional sports boycotted games last week after Milwaukee Bucks players decided not to play against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.