The Los Angeles Sparks remained in their locker room during the national anthem before Game 1 of their WNBA Finals matchup with the Minnesota Lynx, joining NFL teams in protesting President Donald Trump’s remarks referring to former 49er Colin Kaepernick as a “son of a bitch” and stating that players who protested the anthem should be “fired.”
“We agreed on unity and solidarity,” Sparks forward and WNBA player’s union president Nneka Ogwumike told ESPN. ” We wanted our team to stick together.”
“There’s nobody who loves my country more than me,” added Sparks center/forward Candace Parker. “[But] I feel I can’t kneel before the flag; I have too much respect and pride to do that.”
Their opponent, the Minnesota Lynx also protested, linking their arms at the free throw line during the anthem.
Activism in the WNBA is not new, as five teams (New York, Indiana, Phoenix, Minnesota, and Dallas) all wore pre-game shirts supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement back in 2016, well before Kaepernick famously started kneeling during the anthem last season.
“Our players are some of the most socially conscious that you will ever find,” WNBA Commissioner Lisa Borders told reporters before the Sparks-Lynx Finals opener. “You have seen that in the years before I got here, and I’m sure it will continue in the future.”
The Sparks won Sunday’s WNBA Finals Game 1, 85-84 on a Chelsea Gray game-winning jumper with two seconds left.
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