Later in the day, the WNBA followed suit. Just before tip-off of the night's first scheduled game between the Washington Mystics and Atlanta Dream, the players decided that they would not take the court, and all three games have been postponed. The league announced that "information regarding rescheduling of the games will be provided when available."
Dream center Elizabeth Williams read a statement on TV:
Williams' statement in full:
After speaking with representatives from teams playing tonight, as well as our WNBPA leadership, the consensus is to not play in tonight's slate of games, and to kneel, lock arms and raise fists during the national anthem. We stand in solidarity with our brothers in the NBA, and will continue this conversation with our brothers and sisters across all leagues, and look to take collective action.
What we have seen over the last few months, and most recently with the brutal police shooting of Jacob Blake, is overwhelming. And 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.
We encourage everyone to go and register to vote. Now. Today. If you truly believe that Black Lives Matter, then vote. Go and complete the 2020 Census now. Don't wait. If we wait, we don't make change. It matters, your voice matters, your vote matters. Do all you can to demand your leaders stop with the empty words and do something.
This is the reason for the 2020 season. It is in our DNA. We have been saying her name, we are lifting the names of black and brown women, whose murders have been forgotten. We will continue to use our platform to speak of these injustices that are still happening, and demand action for change.
Black Lives Matter. Say Her Name. Say His Name.
Tonight, we stand. And while we have heavy hearts, we stand with strong and determined voices, and ask all our fans to vote, and engage, and make that difference.
Prior to the games, players met and initially decided they would play, but would stage a protest during the game. The plan was to put the ball down and stop at the seven-minute mark of each quarter. The time on the clock was to represent the seven times Blake was shot.
After those initial discussions, however, the Mystics went back to their locker room and made a collective decision that they could not take the court. Once they informed the other teams of their decision, all agreed to stand with them. The Mystics arrived at the arena ahead of Wednesday night's games wearing shirts that spelled out Jacob Blake's name on the front, and had seven bullet holes on the back, to represent the seven times he was shot by Kenosha, Wisconsin police.
Ariel Atkins of the Mystics made a statement explaining why they decided not to play:
Atkins' statement in full:
Just trying to put everybody in mind. Talking to our team, talking to other teams, we wanted everybody to feel like they were supported. And udnerstanding that this isn't just about basketball. We aren't just basketball players. Just because we are basketball players doesn't mean that's our only platform.
We need to understand that when most of us go home, we still our black. Our families matter. We got this little guy right here that we see every day. His life matters. He needs to know that he can do what he wants to do whenever he leaves his house when he grows up. You know, within reason, don't need to be out there crazy. But he matters.
And that's what people need to understand. We're not just basketball players, and if you think we are, then don't watch us. You're watching the wrong sport because we're so much more than that. We're gonna say what we need to say, and people need to hear that. And if they don't support that, I'm fine with that.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert was also interviewed and said the league supports the players but signaled that she hopes to finish the season:
We know it's a very emotional time for our players. We know that they're struggling with what has been happening in this country for months, if not years. They're young, they're trying to find their voice. I've been so proud of how strong their social justice voice has been around Say Her Name and women victims. So it's difficult, but I felt I needed to point out how strong they've been through this, and give them some courage and confidence that basketball's been part of their platform and they can do both. Obviously they decided not to play tonight.
We absolutely support them. We are running a very player-first agenda. We said that from the beginning, and that's why I was here -- to listen, to talk with them, to impart maybe some of my knowledge from my experience, and to really help them think through strategically what this night meant from them, and where they go from here.
We'll use this time off to go back to the hotel and sit down with some of the players and talk with some of the coaches about where we do go from here. We're calling this a postponement, hopefully we'll pick up these three games and talk with the six teams playing tomorrow night, who aren't the six that played tonight, and see how they're feeling. And how, again, I think they can band together in solidarity and really have a strong platform, but also play basketball.
For now, there has been no decision about any of the games moving forward. The players have dedicated the 2020 season to social justice, and have been wearing Breonna Taylor's name on their jerseys all season long. They have also been wearing special warm-up shirts, and Black Lives Matter is painted on the court.