Atlanta Dream Guard Renee Montgomery will skip season to work on social causes

Atlanta Dream Guard Renee Montgomery will skip season to work on social causes

Renee Montgomery is bowing out of the 2020 WNBA season.  The Atlanta Dream guard stated in an interview with 11 Alive Atlanta News, that she plans to skip the season due to focusing on social justice causes.  She’s currently the first WNBA player to publicly opt out of the league’s shortened season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s work to be done off the court in so many areas in our community,” Montgomery said on Twitter on Thursday. She also wrote a piece for the Players’ Tribune explaining her decision. “Social justice reform isn’t going to happen overnight but I do feel that now is the time and moments equal momentum.”

Montgomery states that she’s been heavily influenced by several of her colleagues in the WNBA that have also taken a stand in the #blacklivesmatters movement.  It began back in 2015 when Philando Castile was killed by police.  She watched her teammates Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Maya Moore, and Lindsey Whalen take a stand, with Moore even sitting out two seasons to focus on criminal justice reform.

“It definitely made me feel more comfortable taking a leap of faith,” Montgomery said. “I’m really taking a leap of faith because I know I want to make change, and I don’t have an exact blueprint for it, but there are things that need to be reformed.”

Montgomery isn’t the only player taking a stand this season.  A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces, is calling for her Alma Matter, South Carolina University, to rename its fitness center.  It is currently named after known segregationist senator, Strom Thurmond.

Montgomery, one of the league’s top 3-point shooters, started all 34 regular-season games in which she played last season and won titles with Minnesota in 2015 and 2017. She was the No. 4 draft pick out of the University of Connecticut in 2009 after winning the NCAA championship that year.

Montgomery stated, “It is very difficult, because I played basketball my whole life. Everybody has associated me with basketball. So to give up that comfort zone of basketball, yeah, that’s scary. But in the same breath, I felt strongly enough that I knew whatever happens, this is the right decision for me.”

The WNBA and its players’ union  has agreed  a 22-game regular season to start in late July and a full playoff schedule.  All games are scheduled to be held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Players have until June 25 to notify their teams if they plan to participate, and those who do will receive 100% of their salaries, even though the games will be played without fans. Montgomery opted out of her salary for the 2020 season, according to a team spokesperson.

Montgomery isn’t the only dream sitting out this season.  Her teammate and Atlanta Dream guard Mikayla Pivec, selected in the third round of this year’s WNBA draft out of Oregon State, decided in May to take 2020 off for personal reasons.

Players who choose to sit out of the season for approved medical reasons will still receive their salaries, but players who are sitting out due to personal reasons will not be paid.

Montgomery said she expects other players to skip the season, too, for various reasons including the coronavirus pandemic and the death of George Floyd.

She concluded by stating, “Somebody asked me earlier like, are you scared or nervous about your future? And I’m like, ‘I probably should be, but I’m not.’ That’s just how I feel right now. I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but I just feel like something good is coming.”

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