Power of the Dream (2024) Movie Script

Welcome back to SportsCenter.
Three WNBA games postponed last night
as the players filed suit with the NBA.
And decided not to play in the wake
of the shooting of Jacob Blake Sunday
and the ongoing protests in Kenosha.
so they'll throw it to us live.
We are here
with the WNBA Executive Committee.
These woman have negotiated one of the
most profitable CBA agreements in history.
They've negotiated
the return of the bubble,
and here, today, they are talking about
the protest that happened last night
and how they move forward from here.
Yeah, yeah, perfect.
Now we can discuss
what you guys want to talk about.
So each person tell me what
you are passionate about sharing today.
I mean, mental health is a huge one.
- I think voting for me.
- Okay, I'll set you up on voting.
We're a league full of women
who understand what's most important.
This was a moment
where it's bigger than basketball.
It's just, like, in our fabric
to see an injustice
and wanna step up for it.
And this moment was no different.
Atlanta Dream co-owner, Kelly Loeffler,
is not in favor
of the WNBA social justice plans.
People who, literally, look like me
are being murdered.
This isn't something you ignore.
Especially an election year.
- Black lives matter!
- No peace!
Players are pissed.
Like, people are mad.
How can you redirect that energy?
...control of the US Senate.
So, right now,
two Georgia seats today
are going to decide this.
The anger then fueled the "Fuck her,
we're gonna take her senate seat."
Our voices were more powerful
than we ever imagined.
2020, we made a lot of noise.
Yes, I'm high, I'm mighty, righteous
I'm an all-black, fair trade diamond
Might fuck around
And buy myself an island
Flippin' the script, so, let's go
Got my own damn swag, no stylist
Thirty thousand, I'm still climbing
Getting high on all this flyness
Don't need to flex, I lay low
Oh-na-na-na, hold it down
You got the crown, baby
Don't give it up now
Oh-na-na-na, say it loud
Runnin' that shit like a goddess
Oh-na-na-na, hold it down
You got the crown, baby
Don't give it up now
Oh-na-na-na, say it loud
Runnin' that shit like a goddess
Runnin' that shit like a goddess
I remember
I was about eight years old,
I was very athletic,
you know, at that age.
I was quicker than everyone.
And could do acrobatic things
that most girls couldn't do.
Initially, my mom had signed us up
for gymnast classes,
but my gymnast instructor told me
that I was too tall.
And from there,
I ended up playing basketball.
Basketball was always
my first love for sport.
I don't remember necessarily that moment
I picked up the ball.
Pretty young,
I always had a basketball in my hands.
I started playing
when I was about nine.
And I just fell in love with it.
I feel like I came out of the womb
ready to play sports.
Classic tomboy.
This was probably in fifth or sixth grade,
my local CYO team got asked
to play at halftime of a college game.
As we were leaving
later that day,
a security guard
came up to me and my parents
and was like, can I get
your daughter's autograph,
'cause I feel it's gonna be worth
something one day.
I was like, what?
I love the sweat.
I love the sound of the ball bouncing.
I love the crowd cheering.
I love that there's this atmosphere
where you have a sisterhood.
I love those things.
I play for the bus rides.
And really close
interpersonal relationships
that basketball brings,
is really what I play for.
I love the competition.
I love shit talking.
I love being physical with people,
like beating them up.
I love grabbing their jerseys.
Honestly, my favorite thing
about the game is
there's just this certain level
of chemistry and camaraderie
that comes with
competing side by side with someone,
and fighting for something with them.
I'm of a generation
that didn't grow up with the WNBA.
So I never had dreams
of playing professional basketball.
And then, around my sophomore,
junior year of high school,
the WNBA started.
The NBA is bankrolling
a new hoop league for women.
Oh, oh, there she go,
she is so unstoppable
Oh, oh, there she go
The start of the WNBA,
the Woman's National
Basketball Association,
is off to a great start.
The crowd was into it,
they were cheering loud.
We made history.
These girls had
an unbelievable game.
I was around ten or 11,
and I remember, um,
some guys at the basketball court
were like, hey,
there's this thing called the WNBA.
You should watch it.
I was like, what's that?
They're like, the NBA, but for girls.
NBA, but for the girls?
That's when I started watching women
that really just looked like me.
They were tall and they had big feet.
I didn't have to squish my feet
into small shoes anymore
to fit in at school, you know?
Oh, oh, there she go
She is so unstoppable
Oh, oh, there she go
For the first time
in WNBA history
someone has dunked.
I was planning
to go to medical school.
And my sister said, hey,
that can come later.
You should enter the draft.
With the first pick
in the 2012 WNBA draft,
Los Angeles Sparks
select Nnemkadi Ogwumike
from Stanford University.
To do something
and get paid for it that you love to do,
you know, that's gotta be
everyone's dream, you know.
I now was choosing a college,
knowing that this was an option.
With the first pick
of the 2002 WNBA draft,
the Seattle Storm select
Sue Bird
from the University of Connecticut.
I remember
getting the phone call,
you've been invited to the draft.
And my mind just like, you know, exploded.
With the ninth pick
in the 2013 WNBA draft,
the Indiana Fever select Layshia Clarendon
from the University of California,
To hear my name announced,
it was, like, surreal.
With the first pick
in the 2009 WNBA draft,
the Atlanta Dream select Angel McCoughtry
from Louisville.
You know,
senior year rolls around,
and I knew there's a chance
that I'd be drafted.
And can play in the W.
With the fourth pick
in the 2015 WNBA draft,
the Connecticut Sun
select Elizabeth Williams
from Duke University.
The WNBA has been one of the greatest
success stories in women's history.
Not just sports history,
women's history in general.
Because women have been empowered
by this league.
Women have grown with this league.
Salaries have changed.
Teams have changed. Franchises.
And the sports culture has changed
because of the WNBA.
I think the activism
that you see in the WNBA
inherently started the moment
the first WNBA game was played.
Three leagues
have tried and failed.
What's different in 1997?
We think the timing couldn't be better
and we have very high hopes
for the future of the sport.
The NBA admits
it'll be an uphill battle.
It stands a good chance because
it's got the NBA muscle behind it.
It definitely does.
But the real question's gonna be
when does the novelty wear off?
We wanted everyone to see
we are so intense
we're not sissies playing the game.
We're woman athletes playing the game.
You're talking
about female athletes
who have always had to fight for respect.
The WNBA officials expanded
to ten teams this week,
adding franchises
in Detroit and Washington DC.
Before you get too excited
about the new additions,
all of the players are still women.
We've always been shorted
when it came to funding.
When it came to media coverage.
So they were used to battling.
The woman make
an average of $30,000 a year,
compared to 2.3 million for male players.
No matter how much money
the NBA puts into the new league,
the question remains,
will hardcore sports fans, especially men,
turn out for the games?
There was all this momentum to launch.
And it was like,
positive, positive, positive.
And then it just quickly hit this low of
their gay, people don't wanna support
the gay women.
You know, they don't look feminine.
All the misogyny starts coming out.
So you have a lot of openly gay
players in the WNBA.
And the league went through this awkward,
if not cowardly, period
where they tried to deny
that this is a part of,
not just their league
from a player standpoint,
but their fan base too.
And that's what made them bond stronger
together in their locker room.
They're gonna use this against all of us.
So we have no choice
but to fight it together.
Starting this week,
the WNBA will become the first
professional sports league
to have a marketing campaign
specifically targeting the LGBT community.
In the WNBA they can see
the parallel struggles between
race, gender, class, sexuality.
They can see them all
and understand the layers
and nuance to them
in a way that's very different
from other professional leagues.
As a league
of predominantly Black women,
we have always understood the value of
supporting the people that surround us.
For the women of the WNBA,
in particular as Black women,
as many queer women,
as people who represent a gender fluidity,
a representation that, you know, perhaps
has not always been embraced.
Each one of those players
wakes up every day
and is inherently political.
There are things
that are so much bigger than us
that require our attention
and require our advocacy and activism,
because we have the platforms to do so.
I believe, after almost 30 years
of covering this league,
that the moment
that changed this league forever
was in 2016.
2016 was a rough year for this country.
Being a presidential year,
and given the fact
that we had a very polarizing candidate
in Donald Trump.
It was a very tumultuous,
uncomfortable time for this country.
Then you had a summer in 2016
where, while we certainly
were not new to seeing
state sanctioned violence
against Black people,
this was different.
Protests growing louder
in Baton Rouge
after the police shooting death
of Alton Sterling.
After Tuesday's killing
in Baton Rouge,
local and federal officials
are now contending with the case
of a 32-year-old Minnesota man
also gunned down by police.
When Philando Castile
was murdered on Facebook live,
that his girlfriend at the time
captured on video,
and you have a little girl in the back
watching all of this.
That put us
on a way different course.
It's bleeding over into sports
in a major way.
'Cause you had athletes who were speaking
out against what they were seeing.
Leading that charge
were the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA.
Lynx players Saturday
unveiled new warm-up shirts
reading "Change starts with us,
justice and accountability."
And on the back,
"Philando Castile,"
"Alton Sterling," and
"Black lives matter."
The logo of the Dallas
Police Department also there,
symbolizing the five officers gunned down
during a Black Lives Matter rally.
We have decided it is important
to take a stand and raise our voices.
Racial profiling is a problem.
We, as a nation, can decide
to stand up for what is right,
no matter your race,
background, or social status.
The Minnesota Lynx,
they're at the peak of dynasty, right?
This is the best team in the league,
they've won four championships
in seven years.
And they take a stand.
When you look Maya Moore,
she's the best player.
She has nothing to prove.
Everything to lose.
And yet, she did not mind being the face,
the voice, her and her teammates,
of this particular protest.
There's something about that
that is so historic,
that I don't think
that people really understand
the full context of that.
When the Minnesota Lynx wore
the T-shirts that they wore
after Philando Castile was murdered,
what struck me the most was, um,
just the passion behind it.
These were woman
that were directly impacted by this.
These were women whose families
have been directly impacted by this.
So for me, especially as a white player,
it was definitely a learning lesson.
The police union says
four off-duty cops were offended.
They asked team officials to have
the players remove the jerseys.
The team refused and the security detail
walked off the job.
To have police officers walk out,
that showed exactly where we were.
They're wading into waters
they shouldn't be in to begin with.
They're professional athletes.
Stick with playing ball.
When they decided
they were gonna speak out
about what happened with Philando Castile,
that put them as an immediate adversary
against the Minneapolis police department.
Which, oh, by the way,
years later, George Floyd.
These are the woman
of the New York Liberty team.
On Sunday, as a team,
they also wore T-shirts
supporting Black Lives Matter
and the Dallas Five.
There was definitely push back.
The WNBA actually tried to fine players
for wearing shirts,
saying they violated the uniform code.
The WNBA has fined
the Fever, Liberty, and Mercury.
Each team was fined $5,000
and the players 500.
I started in this role in 2016.
And what I learned, very quickly,
was that our members are very tuned in,
very keyed in,
to the issues
that affect their communities.
Violating the uniform policy, previously,
wearing another sportswear company's
wristband or headband or bra,
meant that you'd get fined $200.
I had seen the $200 uniform policy fines.
This fine...
was $500.
And if felt...
like a muzzle.
What I always thought
was interesting was,
you know, we have Pride Month.
And we all get to wear T-shirts
for Pride Month.
We weren't getting fined
for those T-shirts.
ESPN wasn't covering us
about those T-shirts.
It was like a tectonic shock
went across the country
through the NBA
once those fines were levied.
And we suffered, I think,
two weeks, at least, of backlash.
I think it's very disappointing
on the part of the WNBA.
Athletes have a platform
that most people do not.
And these are a number
of young, very talented women
who utilized their platform...
And if there is a moment that
can effect social change, this is it.
And now they're getting
financially punished for it?
Fines matter. Fines matter.
I'm the number one
draft pick in 2009.
And I'm getting $44,000.
That was my salary in 2009
as number one pick.
For us, a $500 fine
is a third of someone's paycheck.
I mean,
if I'm making 50, 60, $70,000 a year,
I ain't risking shit, okay?
All right?
I'm risking nothing.
Because what can I risk, you know?
But what was extraordinary about that
is that knowing what was at risk,
what was at stake...
These women do not
get paid the same as Lebron James.
And they did it anyway.
That, to me, is a protest.
Veteran players are talking
to their young, you know, teammates,
their rookie teammates,
and saying, "I got you.
If we get fined, I got you."
And when I was seeing things like that,
I thought this is a union, they get it.
There were times
when players felt uncomfortable
because they understood the repercussions
of standing out publicly,
and, ultimately, politically.
The 2016 season,
I'm three years into the league.
I play for the Atlanta Dream.
We were trying to organize, as a league,
at that time,
to get everybody to, kind of, protest.
And I just remember how upset I was
that we didn't all
end up doing it together.
For me,
I was really nervous about it.
Do we want to be in defiance
and be rebellious and do this?
I understood the value of the issues,
but I still was hesitant in, like,
getting my voice out there.
I think I was afraid of how,
not only how I would look,
but the league.
I think it always feels
like we're in a fight or a battle,
and do we wanna make another thing
for people to not like us about,
when we're trying to grow.
What a lot of people don't realize,
it's before Colin Kaepernick ever knelt.
And I understand why,
in terms of the covers that Colin got.
But because of women like that,
because of that team and that time,
I think it's much easier
to participate in activism.
So that's what makes what they did
that much more impressive.
Two weeks into this
I remember picking up the phone
and calling Adam,
the commissioner of the NBA.
And I said I'm going to rescind the fines.
Today the WNBA has rescinded that fine.
This is obviously a hot button issue.
I recognized it was not
the right thing to do
and we reversed the fines.
Adam and I did it together.
I think the election,
it made people understand
the serious situation this country was in.
And it got everybody activated,
saying uh-oh,
look what happened
when we weren't minding the store.
There's been a shift of the way
white supremacy in our country
has been empowered in the last few years.
That has changed
my feelings around safety.
And has made me question
how much I wanna speak out.
Which is the point, right,
of white supremacy.
Tameka Catchings told me that
after she knelt for the national anthem,
she had death threats.
In 2017 the LA Sparks,
we chose not to be out for the anthem.
When we ran out we were booed
by all of the Minnesota fans.
As we came into this
much more tumultuous political time,
the sense of urgency changed.
Because sports is not
in a separate universe, all right.
It's not happening on a different planet
that is politic free, racism free,
in some Utopia that we don't know about.
It's happening here.
Minnesota Lynx forward
Maya Moore says
she'll sit out the rest of the year.
She's putting down
the ball indefinitely
to answer another call.
Citing, what she calls,
wrongful convictions.
We need to be mindful of our platforms.
And making sure that we are using them
to give helpful narratives.
Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp,
has officially tapped Kelly Loeffler
to replace Senator Johnny Isakson
when he retires at the end of the year.
Kelly Loeffler,
owner of the Atlanta Dream,
became an appointed senator in 2019.
And it appeared to me
that she moved politically
based on the opportunity
that was presented to her.
That wasn't the person that I knew.
But remember, in 2011,
there were no politics.
It was only basketball.
I played basketball in high school
and if you knew me back then,
I was shy, braces, glasses, scrawny.
You know, I lived on a farm.
Athletics were a way for me
to have a view into a bigger world.
I really liked her.
Thought she was a great person.
I loved playing for the Atlanta Dream
and that we had two female owners
was a really cool thing
that I took a lot of pride in.
I think when she got
into the political space,
it was a different Kelly I saw.
I'm a lifelong conservative.
Pro second amendment.
Pro Trump.
Pro military. And pro wall.
Nneka Ogwumike,
she is power forward for the LA Sparks
and president
of the WNBA Player's Association.
We were deep in the throes of negotiating
the collective bargain agreement.
And so many intense conversations,
so many hard conversations
that really helped us land
where we wanted,
which was a new agreement
that truly touched every player
of the league.
It is a historic day
for the future of women's basketball
in the United States.
This is a landmark day
for all women.
The WNBA reached an agreement
with the players
on a new collective bargaining agreement.
During the negotiation
for the 2020 CBA,
a lot of us were holding our breath.
Because you have this
older generation of players
who know how fragile the league can be,
and the financial status of the league.
It's fragile.
If you start demanding, demanding,
you could put the league out of business.
That's just the reality, financially,
for some of the ownership groups.
Then you have the young players
who come up, like,
no, we need to be treated like this.
And I was like, yes, you do,
I'm glad you're asking for this.
Nneka Ogwumike
is the voice of the players.
What is very key to her is making sure
that everybody is a part of
the conversation and feels valued.
And then she will, kind of,
sift through all the conversations
and be able to pull together consensus.
That's what makes Nneka Ogwumike
such a powerful leader.
You helped secure, what is described
as one of the most progressive
collective bargaining agreements
in women's sports.
A nearly 83% pay raise
and paid maternity leave
for all the players.
We're happy to come together with the WNBA
with a lot of innovative ideas.
- Paid maternity leave.
- Yeah.
- Tell us about that.
- Okay. Full pay.
Full pay, childcare stipend,
family planning benefits,
it's gonna include a tripling
of the top players' pay.
The league was growing, um, in popularity.
Ownership models were changing.
They understood that
for the league to grow
the players had to be protected
a lot more.
Um, and they needed to make more money.
We have women's soccer,
we have women's hockey,
that are looking up to
what we are looking to do.
We're really hoping
that it can set the tone
and really create that legacy
for women in sports moving forward.
We were feeling
on top of the world.
We're looking forward to, you know,
a fully engaged free agency,
right after, you know,
signing the agreement,
and the pandemic happened.
Tonight, US cases
of coronavirus more than doubling.
US health authorities, tonight,
say there's no doubt
we'll see more of this,
Americans sick with the coronavirus.
Early 2020,
I was playing overseas. I was in Turkey.
People were freaking out,
like we gotta get outta here.
We don't wanna get stranded in Turkey.
People were like, okay,
let's find our way back to the States.
more than 1,300 people sick in the US.
At least 39 have died.
It just kept growing
and getting bigger and getting bigger.
This, this astounding
and unprecedented story
continues to evolve.
The NBA is suspending the season.
When the NBA decided
to cancel their season
that's when people were like,
oh, shit just got real.
That was when it was slowly starting
to set in for all of us.
That our season was gonna be canceled,
postponed, something.
Sports had just stopped.
The uncertainty was really paralyzing.
And we didn't know anything
about W season.
Like, if it was even possible.
The WNBA has officially
postponed the start of its season
because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Then there was
this question of, like, whoa,
did we just lose our jobs?
We can't afford to not have a season.
We need to pay our bills.
We had just negotiated this 2020 CBA
that was changing the business model
of our sport.
And here we were, confronted
with a true global health crisis.
You know, here we are, a global pandemic,
so everybody's inside.
Not much to do but watch TV.
Not much to do but watch the news.
And then George Floyd gets murdered
in front of everybody.
Tonight, in city after city,
calls for justice
continue to fill the streets.
People were
just screaming in outrage.
Enough, enough, enough.
Take your knee off his neck.
- Black lives matter!
- No peace!
- Black lives matter!
- No peace!
- Black lives matter!
- No peace!
- I can't breathe.
- Oh, no!
- I can't breathe.
- Oh, no!
And then, here in Georgia,
an innocent person
lost his life for jogging.
Arbery was gunned down
by a father and son,
and still no arrests have been made
in that case.
And then, of course,
Breonna Taylor.
Another night of unrest
after the grand jury's decision
not to charge officers with causing
Breonna Taylor's death.
Taylor was shot
and killed by police in her own home.
- No justice!
- No peace!
When 2020 happened
and everything happened
with Breonna Taylor,
it was like something switched.
Like, now I understood how Lay felt.
And I understood the value of
hearing Black women's voices.
And amplifying those voices.
We could see ourselves so clearly
in her story, who she is as a Black woman.
Even within
our own Black communities people are,
they're very quick to show up
for Black men,
but there's really a lack
of media coverage and storytelling
around, like, Black women.
- Say her name!
- Breonna Taylor!
- Say her name!
- Breonna Taylor!
That brought heart-wrenching
conversation amongst the players,
as we were trying to figure out
where we stood.
How we felt about all of this
and what we could do, collectively.
We had a moment. We have a moment.
It wasn't so clear
that the right thing to do
was to go have a season
in the middle of a pandemic.
482,000 lives lost.
121,000 of those right here in the US.
People were dying.
Was it worth the risk
to go play basketball?
Conversations started
happening, talking to players, like,
what do you need, what do you want.
If we were to play, what would you need.
Do players even wanna play in a bubble?
How safe will this be?
How are people gonna feel mentally
with all the unrest that's happening.
All in the middle of a pandemic
that nobody really has any answers for.
I think, ultimately,
at stake is, you know, our jobs.
Our livelihoods.
Our health insurance.
Our safety.
What we were hearing
from the league is like,
we can't afford to go an entire cycle
without a WNBA season.
I do remember there was this one day
where the league presented
to our executive committee options.
Option one, if we can get 20 games off,
and we'll pay you 70% of your salaries.
If we can get 15 games off,
we'll pay you 60.
If we can get this many games,
this percent.
It was like three or four options
of x amount of games
and percentage of your salary.
And it didn't sit well.
It didn't sit well.
We didn't negotiate as hard as we did
for this new CBA
to now, somehow, lose the gains
that we had fought so hard for.
And we talked about
how this pandemic was affecting...
not just Black and Brown people,
but women and families.
And we said here's an opportunity
for the league and the teams
to demonstrate how to show up
for your employees,
when they are showing up for you.
Again, this is what happens
when you're dealing with women
who are used to being in this position.
There's just certain shit
that ain't gonna fly with them.
They're gonna draw their line in the sand,
After weeks of conversation,
there were two conditions
that came up time and time again.
And one was getting 100% of our salary.
The second was dedicating the season
to "Say Her Name" in Black Lives Matter.
If those weren't met,
you know, there was no guarantee
that players would come.
Renee Montgomery
of the Atlanta Dream says
she has decided to sit out
the 2020 WNBA season
to focus on fighting
for social justice reform.
If we can keep the conversation going
to November, that's a win for me.
Natasha Cloud,
one of the league's star players
from the defending champion,
Washington Mystics,
says she is sitting this season out.
This is bigger than basketball.
We're not only athletes.
When we take that uniform off,
we are Black men and women.
We don't get to take our skin color off
and walk around the streets
and have that privilege.
We don't have a choice.
So, uh, when we're talking
about the game of basketball,
uh, today, right now, I could care less.
As a league made up of women,
made up of a majority of women of color,
our voices are very unique in this fight.
There is something special
about the platform that athletes have.
So, we understood
that if the WNBA put the season on,
this is the only way we're gonna be heard.
I think the moment was too important
to not talk about Breonna Taylor.
We didn't want any of that
to get lost or forgotten.
The players were doing so much
in their communities,
they, they didn't want it to end there
because they had to show up for work.
So, how could we make it so that
they could still be doing that work.
They could still be the advocates
and the activists that they were
for their, for their communities.
So Angel McCoughtry
put out on social media
that we should put Breonna Taylor's name
on the back of our jerseys.
I remember someone said, well,
you putting Breonna Taylor's name
on your jersey, what is that gonna do?
It's not gonna change anything.
I said you know what?
I believe that, you know,
you plant a seed and watch it grow.
We ended up partnering
with the "Say Her Name" campaign,
which Dr. Kimberl Crenshaw
helped coin and created.
Then that also sparked that connection
with Breonna Taylor's mom, Tamika Palmer,
to say this is something we wanna do,
how do you feel about it?
She was just honored.
She was, uh, just loving
and caring and hardworking.
She loved family. She loved...
She loved to uplift people around her.
I wanna say to you, Ms. Palmer,
everything that we're doing,
we're planting these seeds
because justice will happen.
Ms. Palmer, we will, we will not stop.
We will go, we will go hard for Breonna,
and just know that
we're gonna scream her name.
I'm so proud to have her name
on my jersey.
We are dedicated and committed to this
because we could be Breonna.
Being on that call
and hearing the emotion
and the gratitude that she had for us
was, like, crazy.
I think we often politicize a situation
when in reality it's, like,
this was somebody's world.
And it was destroyed.
That was motivation for me
to be, like, of course I can speak out
about an issue.
Of course I can wear a shirt.
You know, it just seems so small,
compared to how
their lives were turned upside down.
And I think it also, honestly,
would help ground everyone
in the bubble and not feel like
they're just playing for nothing.
In what was probably
one of the hardest phone calls
that I've ever had to make,
was sitting there,
talking to the board of governors,
owners of our league,
and telling them that
in a heavily abbreviated season,
that we still wanted to get
100% of our pay.
In a pandemic,
in which Black and Brown women
are disproportionately affected.
you know, I think that we all understood
that we've been using our platform
to impact our communities
and to make a difference.
And we absolutely want to dedicate
our season to "Say Her Name",
namely Breonna Taylor.
And, of course, Black Lives Matter.
And do what we can, um,
with our games being on TV,
with everyone being at home,
to really make the impact that we can.
I've always felt
what we learned the most in 2016,
was the power of numbers.
Now, we're going through
these months of negotiations,
we start to sense, like, oh,
this is like another opportunity
where, if we're doing this together,
it's gonna just have,
it's gonna have greater power,
it's gonna go further, all the things.
After that, it was almost,
kind of, a matter of fact,
like, yeah, okay, we agree.
We totally believe you should be
getting paid 100% of your money.
And we too wanna see what we can do
with using our platforms
and what we're experiencing
in this country.
I think, having that mentality
kind of trickled into the bubble.
You know, not being satisfied
with how things have been done
and wanting to make sure
we can change things for the better,
and not do things the same way
we've done in the past.
We wanted to cry and celebrate,
but we just had to keep our...
Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course. Sure.
We knew,
we, we just wanted to let you know.
Huge news for women's basketball
is the WNBA has announced a plan
to return in late July.
The league plans
to play a 22 game schedule
with all teams in one location.
That looks to be the IMG Academy
down in Bradenton, Florida.
The league this week announced
the 2020 season is being dedicated
to social justice.
Players can have
the names of women on their jerseys
who died in cases of police brutality.
I remember just being on, just on call.
I got a call at eight o'clock
in the morning from my boss,
she said can you report
to the bubble tonight.
And it was on.
I'm headed to the bubble today.
I have so much stuff.
I don't know what to expect,
but I'm looking forward to it, so.
It's time to go.
The WNBA is one league
that has set up a bubble for its teams.
This is obviously the effort
to keep players and staff safe.
While the NBA
is at Walt Disney World,
the WNBA is just down the road
at IMG Academy in Bradenton.
It was crazy
walking into that bubble.
One part of me walked into that experience
proud that we pulled it off.
Nneka and I are on calls
talking to the chef,
asking him what the food is gonna be.
There's just so many details.
You know, we're testing every day.
Um, just all those little things.
This is my local commute.
My wife was pregnant at the time,
so here I am, my first child,
leaving my partner
after the first trimester,
going into God-knows-what in Florida.
Do you like my pajama pants?
I want Portland Lakers.
VC, who you got?
We had the tightest bubble
in all of professional sports.
I remember Sue Bird saying, look,
nobody can leave the bubble.
We have to have a tight bubble.
If you leave the bubble,
keep on going home.
Because there can't be
all this in and out.
Good work.
Soon as you get ten, we'll switch sides.
Good job, Jaylyn.
My senior year COVID hits
and I get the notification that the NCA
tournament has been canceled.
So I drive home, cry to my parents,
like, so upset.
So it's just, there's a waiting game,
there's so many unknowns.
We're not sure
if there's gonna be a season, a draft.
Then the WNBA says
they're gonna do a virtual draft.
- You're gonna miss this.
- You guys.
I got drafted the Mystics,
and they ended up having to waive me.
And then I got a call
from coach Nicki Collen
and she was, like, what do you think
about joining the Dream this summer?
And I was, like, absolutely.
I think I had, like, a three day window
to, kind of, get everything together
and head down to Atlanta
before we ended up going to the bubble.
It was especially tough
for rookies in that season.
You know, I was hoping
that Jaylyn could feel a little, like,
a little sense of comfort
and security with us, with the Dream.
The team was very different
because Renee decided to not play
and focus on social justice.
Tiffany Hayes also did the same.
So I was really, kind of,
the longest-standing member
that was playing.
As a rookie,
I just wanted to enjoy it.
Because of everything
that had happened with COVID
I didn't get to finish my college career.
It was so hard to not be a fangirl
with all the amazing players we have.
Bang, bang, hit that frame
Let me see you do your thing
- Like woah
- Like woah
- Like woah
- Like woah
Ha, ha, beat don't stop
Let me see you pop and drop
Like woah, like woah
- Like woah
- Like woah
Let's go
The community we were able to have
in that moment, together,
was something really special
and hard to recreate.
'Cause you're typically
12 teams in 12 markets.
You see each other when you travel,
but now you're just hanging out.
- I'm not done yet.
- Nneka's naps.
- Nneka's Naps salon.
- Nneka's naps.
That's my salon, Nneka's Naps.
I'm almost done.
She gave me Bantu Knots
when she was supposed to be retwisting me.
I did not give you Bantu Knots.
It's about 55 degrees. We got about 55.
I guess I'll show you what's
in our fridge. Everyone wants to know.
I just went, uh, grocery shopping.
Actually, they had to deliver it
because we can't go grocery shopping.
Gatorades, water, the O, Simply Lemonade.
We're just weathering the storm.
Ba-duh ch!
Yo, this is insane.
This is redonk.
Got our boots.
Our boots are toweled up.
In WNBA news, Atlanta Dream co-owner,
Kelly Loeffler,
is not in favor
of the WNBA's social justice plans.
And Loeffler has sent a letter
to commissioner Cathy Engelbert
objecting to the league's initiatives
to honor the Black Lives Matter movement.
She asked the commissioner to scrap plans
for players to wear warm-up jerseys
reading "Black Lives Matter"
and "Say Her Name".
And she, instead, said
they should put an American flag
on all uniforms and apparel.
When Kelly made her statement
it was very disheartening
knowing her role within the team
and owning a sports team that is
predominantly Black women
in a league
that is predominantly Black women.
It just, it makes you think twice
about the face that people show you.
It was hurtful.
And I felt it very personally.
For you to denounce
Black Lives Matter,
and you have a team full of Black women,
you love me scoring
on a basketball court.
But if my brother here
is dying in an unjust cause,
you're denouncing that.
And that's where I felt like, uh,
Kelly had, kind of, lost the respect
of us and the girls.
When we heard about the letter
we were pissed the fuck off.
We had finally gotten to the bubble.
We had finally exhaled
'cause we had done the hard work.
Only to have this letter drop like a bomb.
That's what it felt like.
It just took the wind
out of all of our sails.
All the work that we had done
to negotiate coming back for this season...
All the work that we had done
to make sure that history truly reflects
their advocacy as professional athletes,
because they have never shied away
from that responsibility.
That letter...
looked to undo that.
That's why it felt
like the ultimate betrayal.
Such a high level too.
No one has asked politics
to come into sports.
I'm not gonna let a political movement,
which is what the Black Lives Matter
movement truly is,
tear our country apart.
To hear the things
she was saying, I was like, oh, wow.
I've sat across from you
and shared a meal with you.
And, like,
is that how you felt the whole time?
That's still how you feel in the midst
of people who look like me
who are being murdered. Like...
That, for me, was like the particular,
like, twist in the back, was like, damn.
And you're gonna use us
as your political pawn?
Like, not only do you feel this way,
you're gonna use us to try
and get your own political gain.
And that shit hurt.
You know, keeping politics
outside of basketball,
it's hard to when you're an owner
and you're in politics.
It affects us.
As female athletes,
all we are are judged based on everything
except the game we're playing.
We're being judged because we're women.
We're being judged because we're gay.
We're being judged because we're Black.
All of these political things
are being brought to us
it's never just been about basketball.
There's the emotional phase,
where everybody has just, like, reactions.
Fuck her. This is stupid.
What the fuck. It's racist.
You know, like,
just these blurts, snap reactions.
And then, once that calms a little bit...
By the way, as a white player,
it's probably gonna calm for me quicker.
So once that calmed a little bit,
it was like, okay, what can I do?
What's a solution? What's action-based?
Does it mean we can kick her out?
'Cause in the moment,
it felt like we could do that.
They're not afraid. They're definitely
not afraid of a fight with a senator.
As crazy as that may sound, right?
And when she started attacking
the Black Lives Matter movement,
and saying other disparaging things
about the league and the players
and the stance they were taking,
I was like, man, she picked the wrong one.
She doesn't know what she has done.
The are calls
for US Senator Kelly Loeffler
to step away from the Atlanta Dream.
If the WNBA goes against
everything you stand for,
if the WNBA support a movement
that you think is harmful,
if the WNBA has 80% minority
and it has a large percentage
in the LGBT community,
why do you want to be a part of it?
When she came out with that letter
I was shocked.
It wasn't just a ripple around the WNBA,
it was a tidal wave.
We aired our grievances to the league
about the situation.
You're in a tough position, Cathy,
this is your first year as commissioner.
Do you personally think
Kelly Loeffler should maintain
her co-ownership of the Atlanta Dream?
The senator has not served as a governor,
we have a board of governors,
she's not served
since she became a senator.
Since October of 2019
she's no longer involved
in the day-to-day business of the team.
WNBA seemingly attempting
to distance itself from Loeffler,
but the league may feel pressure
to do more.
Especially when there are
so many players speaking out.
The determination
by the women in the league
very much seem to be
we're gonna get her out.
Are you against racism or not?
Because the movement
stands against racism.
For her to come out and say
that we're divisive
and Black Lives Matter's movement
is a divisive organization,
um, I call her BS on that.
That's not who should have the privilege
of being a part of this league,
that's so progressive,
that's so inclusive.
There's no way
that a owner like Kelly Loeffler
is gonna work in the WNBA.
It's not gonna work.
Especially not in Atlanta.
I'm like,
that's definitely not gonna work there.
She didn't read the room.
Having a name like the Dream,
was a nod to Dr. Martin Luther King,
our native son.
So to fly in the face of that,
the players were mad. They felt betrayed.
We can say anything we want,
but legally, what does it look like?
We've never dealt
with this situation before.
We've never had a person running
for senator be an owner.
The league is, kind of, in control of,
you know, who's owners.
We as players don't really
have a say in that.
So we can't just call for her head.
We can't just get her kicked out.
Um, so it was really frustrating.
Players and staff, we had a Zoom call.
And we said, okay,
we gotta figure something out here.
We gotta have a conversation.
We gotta talk about what was said
and address it head on.
So let's start with a statement.
So we just put out a statement
re-emphasizing that all the work
and all of the focus of the W season
was on Black Lives Matter.
Black bodies, Black humans are dying
at a rate that they shouldn't.
Then it was like, okay, now what?
Welcome to ESPN's presentation
of the WNBA tip off.
This historic 2020 season...
Expect powerful
statements all season long
from the women of the WNBA.
This is nothing new for these women.
They have been proactive
when it comes to speaking out
on social injustices
for the life of the WNBA.
We are dedicating this season
to Breonna Taylor,
an outstanding EMT who was murdered
over 130 days ago in her home.
We are also dedicating this season
to "Say Her Name" campaign.
A campaign committed to saying the names
and fighting for justice for Black women.
Sandra Bland.
Atatiana Jefferson.
Dominique Rem'mie Fells.
And Breonna Taylor.
We will be a voice for the voiceless.
And now we will observe
a moment of recognition
for Breonna Taylor for 26 seconds,
the age she was when she was killed.
As the bubble season went on,
we still have to play a season.
We still have to do that hard work.
So many exhausting things
around us,
but, at least,
I can have basketball as an outlet.
Away from all the craziness of the world.
We played every other
day in the bubble.
The schedule was grueling.
I remember waking up, like, Groundhog Day,
being in a panic sometimes
that we had a game.
Because I was so exhausted.
Then my body would calm down
'cause I'd remember we don't play today.
I was like, fuck, okay.
I'll go get breakfast.
I just have practice today.
It was just starting
to creep up on people, a fatigue.
The stress is, kind of,
starting to creep in.
And then there is another police shooting.
And everything just, kind of, fell apart.
Jacob Blake, on Sunday,
shot, as far as we can tell
from listening to the video,
seven times in the back
by a Kenosha police officer.
The family says
the 29-year-old's spinal cord
is severed and that he's paralyzed
from the waist down.
Exactly three months
after the death of George Floyd,
Blake's shooting is the latest flash point
over race and policing.
We're like, seriously,
like, another shooting?
In the midst of all of this, right?
In the midst of the moment
when eyes are on the police.
Like, people are literally watching you,
recording you,
and then this happens.
It was hard.
I remember we were supposed
to play the Mystics,
and it was actually supposed to be
a nationally televised game.
We knew that the significance
of us playing in this bubble
and having more of these
nationally televised games was that
we could continue to talk about
these issues that were important.
And so, the conversation was like,
do we play, do we not play.
How do we still amplify all that we've,
all the work that we've already done
and still acknowledge that the shooting
with Jacob Blake is not okay.
Bradenton, Florida,
was supposed to be the scene
of three WNBA games tonight.
There you see the Atlanta Dream
and the Washington Mystics arriving.
They had on these white T-shirts
that had bullet holes painted on the back.
And it was this very visceral
visual thing.
They wanted people to see
this is what you're doing to people.
Both teams walked out
onto the court
and the question was
should they play tonight?
So literally, we're on the court,
us and the Mystics having a conversation.
Talking about this.
We're all trying to figure out
what do we do, what happens now.
What is the NBA doing?
The NBA paused the playoffs.
This empty court speaking volumes
as the Milwaukee Bucks players
refuse to take the court
against the Orlando Magic.
The league's strongest statement
on social injustice
on one of its biggest nights.
We all sat and talked
for an hour.
Those thoughts do go through your mind
that we have a TV contract now.
That's money towards the league,
money towards our salaries.
What will be the effects
of us not playing.
Could I lose my job?
I could lose my job for these things.
But in the moment it's,
what are you gonna do, fire all of us?
You're gonna fire the entire league?
The league and the coaches, you know,
kind of understood, like,
this thing is still a little fragile.
If you guys stop playing, and protest,
we might not have a bubble.
It might fall apart
and everybody's gonna go home,
they're not gonna play.
So it wasn't just a decision
of we're not gonna play tonight,
are we gonna play ever?
Ultimately, we decided
it was more important to not play.
I was drafting up a statement on my phone.
'Cause something had to be said
if we weren't gonna play.
We're now looking
at a live shot in Bradenton.
All four teams that are in the arena
that were supposed to play tonight
are there.
The consensus is to not play
in tonight's slate of games.
And to kneel, lock arms, and raise fists
during the national anthem.
What we have seen over the last few months
and most recently with the brutal
police shooting of Jacob Blake
is overwhelming.
While we hurt for Jacob and his community,
we also have an opportunity
to keep the focus on the issues
and demand change.
These moments are why it's important
for our fans to stay focused,
hear our voices,
know our hearts,
and connect the dots
from what we say to what we do.
Those women
that night were in pain.
You know, when Elizabeth Williams
is reading that statement,
she is so composed.
I'm just, you know,
I've known her since she was 18 years old,
I'm looking up at her,
I'm just so proud of you
and impressed with you in this moment.
Because this is hard.
It feels like we're
on the teetering of hope and despair.
Any given moment, there's so much change.
And then it's the constant reminder
that nothing's happened.
So I just wanna read this from,
you know, the late, great Maya, um,
and remind us of how much power we have.
"You may write me down in history
with your bitter, twisted lies.
You may trod me in the very dirt,
but still, like dust, I rise.
Just like hopes springing high,
still, I rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
You may shoot me with your words.
You may cut me with your eyes.
You may kill me with your hatefulness.
But still, like air, I rise."
After that vigil,
they go back to have a meeting.
And it's players only.
It's every player in the WNBA goes back
in this room to have a meeting.
Breonna Taylor died.
And George Floyd died.
And we still can't decide
to dribble a basketball.
That's the decision that we made as whole.
To me, this shit hit so hard and home,
I didn't wanna come here.
But I came because people eat off of me.
We gotta come up with something.
It seems like we're talking in circles.
I'm not willing to give up my chair.
That's the only reason why I'm here.
There were plenty of people
in similar situations
that just didn't share.
That they're taking care
of people back home.
That there are people
that literally depend on them.
That's really significant.
Um, and, and those are things
that have to be considered.
I hear what Courtney's saying.
We can't just treat this as a day off.
There are people that are dying
on their days off.
We have to figure out
what we can do as a whole.
We agree that we want to do
something unified tomorrow.
You always hear people say
I wanna use my platform for good.
Playing on national TV,
that's the platform.
If you give that up,
what platform do you have
to protest or make these points
or say what you want?
And so, they basically wanted to know
if we don't play tomorrow,
will ESPN give us a platform?
And it, it's like 11 o'clock at night.
It's midnight and I'm calling my bosses
and we're getting people out of bed,
what can we promise the players?
What can we provide as a company
that they will still have a platform?
- Great job last night.
- Thank you.
It was just,
it was not a fun conversation.
- 'Cause there's not wrong answer.
- No.
- Yeah.
- No, exactly.
I think the biggest issue
from yesterday
was that decisions,
there were no concrete decisions.
But there was somewhat, like,
concrete communication
before decisions were actually made.
Because you guys had made it clear
that you were kneeling together.
When we got there, you were warming up.
- And I was like what is happening?
- Yeah.
It's also that kind of decision
to not play doesn't, um,
it's not about the right or wrong,
but it impacts the whole league.
- Exactly.
- To do that with one team,
again, it's not right or wrong,
it's just, you have to...
- Right.
- It's gotta be...
- And it's also... Yeah.
- You gotta take it into account.
It's kind of like, we're not playing,
and then we're like, well, we are.
You know what? LA and Atlanta
are just gonna play later.
I was like,
we can play you guys, great.
What have you come together on
will there be games tonight?
We also decided today to take off.
Um, of which, I hope,
can be elaborated upon
in a statement that we've prepared.
Following yesterday's decision to stand
in solidarity with NBA players
and Black and Brown communities
in Wisconsin and around the country,
we will continue demonstrating
our solidarity by not playing today.
This is affirmatively a day of reflection.
A day of informed action and mobilization.
We are doubling down
on our previous calls to action
to contact your local officials
and demand reform.
Register to vote,
and show up on election day.
We wanna make sure that in addition
to having the passion
and the voices out there,
we're strategic and we're intentional
about how we move forward.
So, if you wanna create that change,
and you want people, officials in office,
that represent your values,
you have to go out and vote.
I mean, that might go down
as some of the most political,
politicized, um, sports commentary
that's ever happened
on American television.
I don't if people have really
appreciated or thought about it.
They can disagree behind closed doors,
but outwardly facing,
the WNBA was standing arm-in-arm
and standing together.
And that was
the most powerful message in sports.
The race to fill the remainder
of Senator Johnny Isakson's term
is quickly becoming
one of the hottest races in the country.
Understanding just how
we were able to communicate
and organize and galvanize,
that energy was very much still alive.
A lot of ideas were swirling around
taking action.
Those conversations birthed
the awareness of
this owner's also running for senate.
Maybe we can have
some type of impact on that?
What do our sisters at the Dream want,
how do they feel,
you know, what were their thoughts?
Did they wanna do something?
She is a sitting senator
in a seat that she wasn't elected into.
She just got it.
And we are in this election year
and then the ideas started coming.
Loeffler now facing
five other Republicans,
eight Democrats,
and six smaller-party
or no-party candidates.
Candidates will have to compete
in what is called a "jungle" primary,
where all candidates can run
regardless of party.
The top two vote getters make the runoff.
My dad, Herschel Bird,
he was basically explaining to me
what a runoff was.
And how the senate seat in Georgia
was gonna play out.
Literally, just from, like,
a election, politics standpoint.
He's like, all Kelly Loeffler
really needs to do
is get to the runoff.
And all she needs to do to do that
is be more Trumpy
than the other Republican.
I'm the conservative that
has a proven, trusted record.
President Trump
told the governor of Georgia
on at least three different occasions
that he wanted me in this seat.
She's not been endorsed
by the President at all.
You know, the WNBA has embraced
the Black Lives Matter
political organization.
This is a very divisive organization
based on Marxist principles.
I am fighting for freedom of speech.
And not to be canceled when you speak...
The more oxygen
that we gave Kelly Loeffler
to go and speak on this,
we're actually helping her.
So the only way to actually "beat her",
for lack of a better...
is to not talk about her.
Obviously, there's so much irony
in the fact that
we went to the bubble to say her name.
And now, we're gonna tell 144 players
do not say this person's name.
It's gonna be hard to not say her name.
'Cause players are pissed.
Like, people are mad.
How can you redirect that energy?
Then we started figuring stuff out,
like, okay,
there's this guy, Raphael Warnock,
and he's running in her seat.
Kelly Loeffler, it's your turn to ask
a question of one of your opponents.
My question is for Raphael Warnock.
You've called police officers thugs,
bullies, and gangsters.
Will you apologize to our hard-working
men and women in law enforcement?
So, I support law enforcement.
I think it's possible
to appreciate the work
that law enforcement members do
and at the same time
hold them accountable.
From there, we learned
about Reverend Warnock.
Reverend Raphael Warnock is criticizing
Senator Kelly Loeffler
for not supporting the Black Lives Matter
movement in the WNBA.
People are literally dying on the streets.
And she's playing politics.
The WNBA are all trying to find themselves
on the right side of history.
She's finding herself
on the wrong side of history.
Oh, we support Warnock.
It was a really cool solution
to a very annoying problem.
Now Reverend Warnock already
has some big support in his corner.
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate,
Stacey Abrams,
has announced she is backing his campaign.
He graduated from Morehouse and grew up in
the housing projects of Savannah.
And is a member
of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity,
the 100 Black Men of Atlanta,
and the NAACP.
Once we kind of realized
this could be the strategy,
it had to be done right.
We knew Kelly Loeffler was trash.
Starting looking into him,
started researching him.
Because we know we don't mess with her,
but what do you stand for?
I'm not gonna just vote
for Raphael Warnock because he's Black.
You have to do your research.
Started to find out, okay, he's a pastor.
Pastor of what church?
A Baptist church.
Which is Martin King's church.
That's okay.
We gotta check this guy out,
what he got going on.
And it seems to be illegal
to walk while Black.
To be in the park while Black.
To barbecue while Black.
Be in your own home,
playing with your own nephew while Black.
It may not affect everybody,
but everybody ought to be concerned.
I was raising money for Senator Warnock.
I was deep in his camp,
having know him for 20 years.
The next thing I know,
I'm getting a call from Sue Bird.
Sue wanted to get her homework done.
Like she always does.
It's like a scouting report.
It was really important
that we got to know him.
That we hear him talk about these issues.
Boom, we contact Lisa,
we get connected to Reverend Warnock.
Yeah, Lisa's a friend.
And somebody I respect a lot.
She reached out to me and said
these women want to meet with me.
I can tell you, I had a little bit
of experience with basketball growing up,
but I was never good enough
to be on the team.
I had the ugliest jump shot
in the neighborhood.
But it used to go in.
But anyway, we had a meeting
and we got together on Zoom.
But I was just thinking that these
were some really brave young women.
And very smart.
And, um,
they were laying it all on the line.
Their careers.
Uh, to stand up
for what they think matters.
I came to the meeting
with a great deal of respect for them.
I think we learned
in the midst of the conversation
that we had a lot in common.
This was organized.
They didn't just jump into
supporting Raphael Warnock.
They vetted him.
And he had to prove himself
to the women of the WNBA
that he was a worthy candidate
to get behind.
I asked him where he stood on, like,
women's rights, abortion, LGBT rights,
especially as a reverend and someone who
was in the Black church and community.
I've been fighting for, uh,
reproductive rights
and reproductive health care for years.
How is it that you can say you're pro-life
before the baby is born,
but you won't support child health care
after the baby is here.
I've stood up
for the LGBTQ+ community.
Their dignity, their human rights.
I argue that, at it's best,
the Christian faith is about freedom.
It's about justice. It's about liberation.
The attack on Saturday night
against the Pulse nightclub
was a hate crime.
Everybody needs a sanctuary.
Everybody needs a safe place.
And our message tonight is clear.
We are one.
And certainly just standing up for women.
The fact that women are still struggling
for equal pay, for equal work,
is a scandal and a scar
on the soul of America.
You better stop standing up
for people you don't even know,
while ignoring the pain of your daughters
who are living in your own house.
If you're there, standing up for somebody
just because they're an R&B singer,
standing up for somebody just because
he's up for the Supreme Court,
your daughter won't speak up
because if you don't believe them,
you won't believe her.
He ended up aligning so beautifully.
We're like...
We kinda like this guy.
The next step was going to be
presenting Reverend Warnock to our league.
We're in a bubble, we're in one place,
we're not going anywhere.
So engagement was through the roof
when it came to the WNBA players.
I remember the link Zoom call,
they had done a lot of research.
And kinda gave us an idea of who he was
and what he stood for.
Right around that call
I turned on the TV, put on the news,
and it happens to be John Lewis's funeral.
And who steps up?
In a moment when there is
so much political cynicism
and narcissism
that masquerades as patriotism,
here lies a true American patriot
who risked his life and limb
for the hope and the promise
of democracy.
And I text the group chat
that had all the player reps.
And it was like, put the news on.
This is the guy.
I did not know
what was going to happen after that.
I think
the biggest initial fear was just
I mean, she writes our checks.
Do we not get paid, like...
Does our season just end?
Is our team not playing games?
But I think, in general, we're all ready
for whatever, at that point.
Organizing is, hey, texting,
talking about coming out, staying in...
Organizing is, like, hard effing work.
There's a reason people don't sign up
to be organizers.
And that, I'm starting to see,
through the CBA,
through the second CBA,
getting us to the bubble
and then through this council...
Add that to your Twitter bio.
- We're all organizing.
- That's on my resume.
What I recall the most for us
strategizing out of that, was, like,
players can wear whatever they wanna wear.
So when a player walks
in their tunnel moment,
getting off the bus,
walking into that arena, like,
their photo's gonna be taken.
From there, the ideas around T-shirts
started happening.
I was in a group chat,
talking back and forth,
how are we gonna get the shirts,
who's gonna print them,
how do we get them in the bubble.
And one of us just being like,
Sue, you need to do it.
Like, it's too much for me.
This is a great idea,
I'd love to do these,
but I can't carry the burden of this.
And Sue being like, great, let's go.
I had to have a constant awareness
of knowing when
I needed to take a step back.
And knowing when I was needed
to, kind of, take the reins.
And just really trying to,
kind of, do that dance.
And this wasn't a league decision.
Every individual player had the choice
to wear the T-shirt or not.
Every individual player had the choice
to post on social media or not.
Organizing 144 women,
I mean, good luck organizing 20 women.
And here they are, Nneka and Sue Bird
and everybody organizing 144 women.
I remember getting the shirts
and they said tomorrow could be crazy,
we're gonna make a statement.
And it's gonna be awesome.
And I remember walking in
and someone posted a picture
and then it kinda spread like wildfire.
on the Chicago Sky, Phoenix Mercury,
and Dream wearing "Vote Warnock" shirts
on Tuesday night
in support of voting against
the Dream's co-owner,
Senator Kelly Loeffler.
Today we saw
both teams arrive to the arena.
Many of the players wearing a shirt
that said "Vote Warnock".
There were certain games
that Atlanta was playing on TV.
Ensuring that those T-shirts
were worn by them first.
And then other teams, following that,
started wearing the shirts.
When I saw them
wearing the T-shirts,
it was like, oh, oh, they're going there.
People calling me on my phone.
And, all of a sudden,
you just see black T-shirts.
With white letters.
Except it said "Vote Warnock".
They're coming out,
not just against the owner,
they're coming out for her opponent.
You gotta be worrying about
am I gonna get my next paycheck.
Am I going to have a job?
Are they gonna cut me?
Think of what retribution
could've happened to this team.
That takes guts.
Elizabeth, your team
really making a statement
as you came into the arena tonight.
What was that statement?
He's running
for US Senate right now
and he supports everything that
all the players in the WNBA supports, so,
we wanted to make a statement
and be really vocal about that.
It just blew up.
You couldn't watch TV
the next couple of days
without seeing a WNBA player
on a major platform.
We wanted to be strategic.
We wanted to be intentional.
We wanted to make sure
that all of the ideas
we've been focused on weren't lost.
And we also wanted to make sure
that this was completely player led
and it was completely optional.
We just wanted to support someone
whose beliefs were in line with ours.
I think this is just a great way
to connect those dots
between social justice
and getting out and voting.
We decided to wear it
because he's for Black Lives Matter.
He supports the league and the movement
and we support him.
We're vote for Warnock, so...
He was poling at, like, 9%.
No one knew who he was.
That was an important moment.
Because then people began to ask,
well, who is this Warnock guy?
You saw Warnock's visibility climbing.
It meant that the race
was then being discussed
in arenas that were not
expressly political.
Once we started wearing those shirts,
his campaign shot to the roof.
So it was definitely a turning point
in my campaign.
In a tweet, Warnock said
I am honored and humbled
by the overwhelming support
from the WNBA players.
I am extremely proud
of the women of the WNBA.
They are standing up
at a defining moment in American history.
Kelly does not know
what she got herself into.
What's your response
to all this?
I thought it was about winning games,
now it's about winning senate seats.
It really proves my point,
this isn't about playing basketball,
it's about playing politics.
"This is just more proof
that the out-of-control cancel culture
wants to shut out everyone.
Anyone who disagrees with them.
It's clear that the league
is more concerned with playing politics
than basketball,
and I stand by what I wrote in June."
I gotta admit, throughout
this whole process with Warnock,
there was a lot of uncertainty around it.
It was hard and it was uncomfortable.
And, you know, we're now taking the league
into the world of politics.
And, like, we're not politicians.
You know, and that's a very tricky world
where one misstep
and it could blow up in your face.
So it's really tricky.
And I think we're all feeling that.
It's a lot of responsibility.
We got a lot of support
from Stacey Abrams.
Continue to use your platforms
and your beautiful voices.
If you ever ask me
who I ever fangirl over,
it's not, like, a movie star or someone,
it's Stacey Abrams.
We got an educational session
from Michelle Obama.
Michelle Obama took time
to speak with NBA and WNBA players
on the importance of voting.
She was like, yeah, everybody talks
about the presidential election,
but then everybody forgot
to turn out for the midterms.
So President Obama had to fight
and he couldn't get as much done
as he would've liked.
And the minute she said that,
everything seemed to fall into place,
like we were doing the right thing.
Not that is was gonna be easy,
not that it wasn't gonna be uncomfortable,
but we are definitely
doing the right thing.
Utter and complete domination!
Confetti and a title.
Seattle Storm,
2020 WNBA champions.
After being in the bubble
and all that was going on,
the moment's earned and enjoyed.
When young people tell me
my vote doesn't make a difference,
I tell you, of course
it makes a difference.
If it didn't make a difference,
they wouldn't work so hard
to keep you from voting.
Vote Warnock!
We're ready for change
and we want change now!
This was the first time
I had run for public office.
I felt like we had run a good race,
but I had 20 opponents.
Both Democrats and Republicans. Twenty.
Breaking news,
Joe Biden has been elected
the 46th President of the United States.
Joe Biden has won
the American presidential election.
We know Democrats
are gonna have the White House.
We know Democrats are gonna have control
of the House of Representatives.
This is the remaining
unfinished piece of business.
Control of the US Senate.
It is these two Georgia seats
that are going to decide this.
Georgians will have to
vote again in January
to settle the state's other senate seat.
Incumbent Republican Senator
Kelly Loeffler
and Democratic challenger
Reverend Raphael Warnock
heading to a runoff.
Neither candidate received enough
of the vote for an outright win.
I was like, okay.
Of course this is a runoff.
It can't just happen.
Him moving on to the runoff,
there was some success in that,
but we knew the job wasn't done.
I tell everyone the highlight for me
was definitely walking in
with those "Vote Warnock" shirts.
And seeing, seeing the impact that it had,
we wanna know what you think we can do
to, you know, continue the fight.
We got these two senate races
going on in Georgia.
You were very much a part of it.
So I just wanna flag that for somebody
who's thinking about stepping up
and standing up, that's the pastor in me,
I wanna encourage you to step up.
Because you don't know the ripple effect
that your voice can have.
I just wanna say thank you.
for everything you're doing.
I know it's definitely not easy.
I'm deeply honored by the support
that I've gotten from the WNBA.
Some people stand up just to be counted,
but other stand up to be where it counts.
Please continue to vote.
Vote early or vote on January 5th.
This is the runoff debate
for US Senate
to fill the seat currently held
by Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler.
You've called
the Black Lives Matter movement fascist.
You've alienated members
of your own basketball team
by talking about that stance,
or taking that stance, rather.
Is that still your view tonight
after seeing and hearing
how it hits home
with so many people personally.
Well, the life of every African-American
is important
and there is no place
for racism in this country.
But there are organizations
whose number one goal
is to defund the police.
Elections are about choices.
I wanted people to see the contrast
between me and her.
Um, and that's the vision
I tried to articulate.
A Georgia that embraces all of us.
Where people's rights are respected,
uh, and not diminished.
We saw that, this summer,
a multi-racial coalition of conscience
pouring out into American streets,
after the tragic deaths of George Floyd
and Breonna Taylor.
And Ahmaud Arbery and so many others.
And what did Kelly Loeffler do?
She used her enormous privilege and power
as a United States senator
to pick a fight.
With the Black women on her team,
who know what it's like
to grow up in a community
where you have to have two talks
with your children.
One about the birds and the bees.
The birds and the bees and the other about
what happens if you're pulled over
by police officers.
You know, that election night
couldn't come fast enough
because this senate seat
was going to flip the senate.
Republican senators
David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler
trying to fight off challenges
from Democrats Jon Ossof
and Raphael Warnock.
These two elections on Tuesday
may well be
the single most important elections
in the senate of our lifetimes.
The races,
which polls show are virtually tied,
will not only determine senate control,
but President-elect Joe Biden's ability
to push through policy,
including another COVID relief package.
Thank you
on behalf of Joe and myself
for what you did in November.
And I'm here to ask you to do it again.
Vice President-elect
Kamala Harris
setting the stage
for a pair of election eve rallies,
with both President-elect Biden
and President Trump arriving later today.
Georgia's early voting numbers
are already record shattering.
Three million ballots cast.
The highest by far for a runoff election
in the state.
More than 100,000 voters
who did not participate in November
are voting in this election
have already cast their ballot.
And they are disproportionately
voters of color
and disproportionately young voters.
It is election day
and the stakes are high
with control of the US Senate
in the balance.
By that point I was overseas
and I woke up that day,
and I think I saw it on Twitter
when I woke up, that he had won.
This is breaking news.
NBC News now projects Raphael Warnock
as the winner
in the special
Georgia Senate election tonight.
This is a major victory
for Democrats here in Georgia.
Reverend Raphael Warnock
will be the first Black senator
in the state's history.
So I come before you tonight as a man
who knows that the improbable journey
that led me to this place
in this historic moment in America
could only happen here.
We were told
that we couldn't win this election.
But tonight
we proved that with hope, hard work,
and the people by our side,
anything is possible.
The day he got elected,
us, kind of being like, we did it!
We got a fucking senator elected!
You know?
Holy shit, did that just happen?
This guy really won.
This guy that had, like,
7% of the vote, or whatever,
and we wore his shirt.
Um, yeah, it was just nuts.
And then later on, we find out
he's thanking the WNBA.
I'm like, oh, my God!
We did have an impact in helping him win.
And when he thanked us, it was like,
this surreal moment, like,
You never heard a senator
or politician thank the WNBA.
And Warnock did.
That proved that women had the power
to make a difference.
And if we stand collectively,
we're even stronger.
It could be argued that the WNBA played
a significant role in the result here.
We haven't really seen an entire league
band together like this before
behind one unified political cause.
That level of communication
and organization
is just something we haven't seen before
in professional sports.
The women of the WNBA flipped the senate.
Like, flipped it.
So if anybody wanna say that, uh,
the WNBA ain't doing nothing,
oh, we did something during that time.
Voters also sending
our first Jewish senator to Washington,
Jon Ossof projected to defeat
Republican incumbent, David Perdue.
For the first time in six years,
Democrats will operate a majority
in the United States Senate.
This was a political earthquake
in Georgia.
This was one of the greatest checkmates
I've ever seen.
And from a political standpoint,
from an activist movement,
especially in sports,
it's one of the greatest acts of activism
that we've seen.
Georgia's blue now because of these women.
That's huge.
I can't even put that into words.
They gave America a civics lesson.
When Raphael Warnock was born,
both of Georgia's senators
were segregationists.
Georgia just elected
its first African-American
to the United States Senate.
It was so cool to be a part
of something that changed,
literally, our nation's history.
It's a really, like, surreal feeling
to know you're making history
and then to, like, watch it happen.
It's wild.
A developing story,
Atlanta's WNBA team
could soon have new ownership.
Outgoing senator, Kelly Loeffler,
is co-owner of the Atlanta Dream,
but it appears not for much longer.
After losing the runoff
to Warnock,
she'd become so toxic
with the WNBA player community
that it was going to best for her
and the franchise
to go their separate ways.
I'm glad she revealed herself
so we could weed her out of our league.
And out of the senate. Ha, ha-ha.
I think we knew on January 6th
how important that was.
But sitting here now,
years later, it's like,
holy fuck.
That was the most important senate seat.
Flipping that
was the most important thing.
Yeah, we kinda saved democracy.
We kinda saved democracy.
It's pretty wild.
Because I, along with my comrade
in the fight, Jon Ossof,
uh, flipped the senate,
we were able to confirm
Ketanji Brown Jackson.
The first Black woman
to the United States Supreme Court.
First Black woman
to the United States Supreme Court
sits where she sits in part
because of the courage
of the Black women and other women,
uh, in the WNBA.
On this vote, the yeas are 53,
the nays are 47.
And this nomination is confirmed.
That day that we confirmed her,
I was standing there
along with my friend and colleague,
Cory Booker,
we were talking to the Vice President.
First Black woman to be sitting
where she's sitting.
She said, you know, guys,
this is quite a moment.
And we agreed, yes, it is quite a moment.
She said, you know what?
You guys ought to take this moment
and write a letter
to somebody who comes to your mind.
She offered that as a suggestion.
The way the Black women in my life
make suggestions.
And, uh, after she did that,
she handed us each a sheet of paper.
It was the letterhead
of the Vice President
of the United States.
And I sat down at my desk that day
and I wrote a letter to my daughter.
I said, dear Chlo,
today we confirmed
to the United States Supreme Court
Ketanji Brown Jackson.
In the long history of our nation
she is the first Supreme Court Justice
who looks like you.
With hair like yours.
I am pleased to welcome Justice Jackson
to the court and to our common calling.
I simply write to say
that in America
you can be and you can become anything
you set your mind and heart to do.
I hope she'll grow up and be brave
like the women of the WNBA.
And maybe occupy a seat
on the Supreme Court.
Why not the White House?
I don't think WNBA players
are done fighting.
It's just about what's next.
It was truly
a beautiful demonstration of advocacy
and empowerment.
I'm really grateful
to have been a part of it.
you can change the world
with people around you,
is like, so powerful.
It was, kind of,
a, like a reassurance
that my voice is to be shared
and not suppressed.
We've seen now
the impact can be so massive.
All odds are against you.
How do you find a way to win?
And we won.
Dang, I just see
how you all gonna edit that one.
You see how you about to edit that?
That's about to be so dope.
Sorry, I had to throw that in there.