Kelly Loeffler, You Ain't Got No Baaaasketball Team, Renee Montgomery Got Your Baaaasketball Team
Former Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler is now a former sports team owner. The Women's National Basketball Association and the NBA board of governors unanimously approved the sale of the Atlanta Dream, which Loeffler co-owned. Last year, Loeffler decided to prove her MAGA bonafides by picking a fight with the mostly Black players. She wrote WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert to demand that the women's basketball league keep its players from wearing warmup jerseys that read "Black Lives Matter" and "Say Her Name" (a reference to Breonna Taylor, whom the police killed in her bed).
Loeffler contended that "politics had no place in sports," while simultaneously politicizing her interactions with the team. The league's players union wanted her gone, but she refused to be “canceled" before Georgia voters eventually canceled her.
The Dream's new ownership group includes real estate executives Larry Gottesdiener and Suzanne Abair, as well as former WNBA star Renee Montgomery, who was once a starting point guard for the Dream. Montgomery retired from basketball in 2020 to focus on social justice activism and was especially appalled when Loeffler told players to “shut up and dribble."
Renee Montgomery went from playing for the Atlanta Dream to joining the team's new ownership group. She is the fir… https://t.co/O5r1fcJseR— The Undefeated (@The Undefeated)1614360040.0
"My Dream has come true," Montgomery said in a statement announcing the sale on February 26. "Breaking barriers for minorities and women by being the first former WNBA player to have both a stake in ownership and a leadership role with the team is an opportunity that I take very seriously. I invite you to join me as the Dream builds momentum in Atlanta!"
Suzanne Abair is president and chief operating officer of Northland private equity firm in Boston, where she's focused on diversity and inclusion. She's also on the Board of the not-for-profit organization YW Boston, whose stated mission is eliminating racism and empowering women. The Dream's new and improved leadership will not have a problem with players of color expressing their views. Loeffler was happy to exploit the players' talents but refused to support or even empathize with their concerns during last year's protests for racial justice.
Loeffler's bullying backfired big time. In August, Atlanta Dream players and even their opponents started showing up for games wearing "Black Lives Matter," "We Are Breonna Taylor," and "Vote Warnock" T-shirts. Ever the savvy political operator, Loeffler released a statement explaining that the “Vote Warnock" shirts endorsed Rev. Raphael Warnock. This arguably helped Warnock stand out amongst a crowded field of candidates in the special election for Loeffler's seat.
It's lovely that the Dream won't have a co-owner who rants about “out of control cancel culture" while trying to cancel the Black Lives Matter movement, which she smeared as a radical Marxist political organization that wanted to erode the "nuclear family." If she bothered to talk to the players instead of white supremacists who showed up at her campaign rallies, she'd know that they just wanted the police to stop killing Black people, who are usually members of a family.
Abair and Montgomery are both openly gay. Loeffler used to donate large portions of her Senate salary to anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ rights organizations, including Covenant Care Adoptions. The Georgia-based adoption and counseling agency requires that all adoptive parents are “husband and wife" and agree to the group's “Statement of Faith."
The statement says that "the term 'marriage' has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union," and that "any form of sexual immorality (including ... homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God."
I wonder if these bigots could explain the difference between homosexual "behavior" and bisexual “conduct."
Larry Gottesdiener, the founder and chairman of Northland, seems like a nice guy as well, especially compared to Loeffler, who sucks. However, Abair and Montgomery are definite upgrades in Dream leadership who represent the inclusive future that Loeffler so vocally opposed.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."