Sports News

WNBA: Liberty, Storm players walk off court during national anthem

(Reuters) - Members of the WNBA’s New York Liberty and Seattle Storm teams, in protest of racial inequality, walked to their respective locker rooms during the playing of the U.S. national anthem prior to their season opener on Saturday.

Players from the Women’s National Basketball Association and other athletes from around the world are joining in anti-racism protests sparked by the high-profile deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police officers.

“We are dedicating this season to Breonna Taylor, an outstanding EMT who was murdered over 130 days ago in her home,” said Liberty guard Layshia Clarendon prior to the tip-off at the at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician, was killed on March 13 after police officers entered her apartment, executing a “no-knock” search warrant.

“Breonna Taylor was dedicated and committed to uplifting everyone around here. We are also dedicating this season to ‘Say Her Name’ campaign, a campaign committed to saying the names and fighting for justice of Black women,” she said.

“Black women are so often forgotten in this fight for justice, who don’t have people marching in the streets for them ... We will be a voice for the voiceless.”

The Storm defeated the Liberty 87-71 behind 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals by 2018 league MVP Breanna Stewart.

The game was played without fans in attendance to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, which halted U.S. sports in mid-March.

Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Orlofsky