Loeffler knocks WNBA players for wearing shirts backing Democratic challenger

Loeffler knocks WNBA players for wearing shirts backing Democratic challenger
© Greg Nash

Republican Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerDemocrats ramp up pressure on Lieberman to drop out of Georgia Senate race The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden on Trump: 'He'll leave' l GOP laywers brush off Trump's election remarks l Obama's endorsements GOP, Democrats look to galvanize women with SCOTUS fight MORE (Ga.) on Tuesday ramped up her criticism of the WNBA after players across the league wore T-shirts endorsing her Democratic challenger in the Georgia Senate race, claiming it showed they were more “concerned with playing politics than basketball.”

“This is just more proof that the out of control cancel culture wants to shut out anyone who disagrees with them,” Loeffler, a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, said in a statement.

The comments came as players from the Dream and other WNBA teams escalated their public show of opposition to the Republican senator over her critical comments about the WNBA’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Players around the league wore T-shirts with the message “Vote Warnock,” a reference to the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat making a bid for Loeffler’s seat in this November’s special election.

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The Chicago Sky tweeted photos of several players wearing the black and white T-shirt with the caption: “Don’t boo...VOTE.” Included in the tweet is a link to online voting registration in every U.S. state. 

"We are @wnba players, but like the late, great John LewisJohn LewisHillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Underwood takes over as chair of House cybersecurity panel Trump to pay respects to Ginsburg at Supreme Court MORE said, we are also ordinary people with extraordinary vision," Atlanta Dream forward Elizabeth William said in a tweet, referencing the congressman and civil rights icon who died last month. "@ReverendWarnock has spent his life fighting for the people and we need him in Washington."

Several players, including the Seattle Storm's Sue Bird, tweeted a similar message. 

The move to wear the T-shirts came roughly one month after Loeffler first came out in opposition to the WNBA's decision to dedicate its upcoming season to the Black Lives Matter movement and to allow players to wear warm-up jerseys paying homage to Black victims of police violence. 

In early July, Loeffler said in a letter to the WNBA commissioner that its plans were subscribing to a "particular political agenda" that sent a "message of exclusion." She later escalated those comments, saying on Fox News that the Black Lives Matter movement is a "very divisive organization based on Marxist principles." The comments prompted calls inside the WNBA for Loeffler's removal as co-owner of the Dream.

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Loeffler echoed her previous remarks on Tuesday, saying that “we come together around sports, but promoting a political agenda divides us rather than unites us."

"The lives of every African American matter, and there’s no place for racism in our country. But I oppose the BLM political organization due to its radical ideas and Marxist foundations, which include defunding the police and eroding the nuclear family," she said. 

Warnock said in a statement that he was "honored and humbled by the overwhelming support" from the WNBA. 

"This movement gives us the opportunity to fight for what we believe in, and I stand by all athletes promoting social justice on and off the court," he said. "Join our movement to flip Georgia blue."

Loeffler, a former finance executive who has co-owned the Atlanta Dream since 2011, is currently locked in a tight race to hold onto her Senate seat, which she filled in late 2019 after Sen. Jonny Isakson (R) retired. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler to the position despite President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Third judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts MORE recommending he give Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsDemocrats ramp up pressure on Lieberman to drop out of Georgia Senate race The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden on Trump: 'He'll leave' l GOP laywers brush off Trump's election remarks l Obama's endorsements GOP, Democrats look to galvanize women with SCOTUS fight MORE (R-Ga.) the seat at the time. 

Collins earlier this year launched a campaign for Loeffler's seat. He is considered to be her most formidable challenger.