The WNBA gave final approval to the sale of the Atlanta Dream franchise to out former WNBA player Renee Montgomery and two others, replacing former Senator Kelly Loeffler who had angered players with her positions on the Black Lives Matter Movement, transgender rights, and her whole-hearted support of Trump policies. Montgomery will be a minority partner in a three-person investor group that includes real estate investors Suzanne Abair and majority owner Larry Gottesdiener. Montgomery will also move into the front office as vice president, making her the first former player to serve as both an owner and a front office executive.
"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," the two-time WNBA champion Montgomery said in a statement.
The opportunity is particularly sweet for the former Dream star Montgomery, replacing an owner who was constantly at odds with players over Loeffler's transphobic beliefs and opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement. As an owner, she wrote a letter last year objecting to the league's decision to use their platform to advocate for racial justice and other issues of importance to players and fans. She also introduced a transphobic bill in the senate entitled the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act. The bill defined sex "based solely on a person's reproductive biology and genetics at birth" and made it illegal for recipients of federal funding "to permit a person whose sex is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls."
"Proud to lead this effort in defense of women & girls," Loeffler tweeted at the time.
\u201cProud to lead this effort in defense of women & girls.\n\nTitle IX established a fair chance for girls of all ages to compete\u2014Sports should be no exception.\n\n@SenMikeLee @MarshaBlackburn @SenatorLankford @SenTomCotton & I are ensuring a level playing field. https://t.co/stG06XTW52\u201d
— Senator Kelly Loeffler (@Senator Kelly Loeffler)
In response to Loeffler's actions, players wore Black Lives Matter and "Vote Warnock" shirts, the latter in support Reverend Raphael Warren, who was running to replace Loeffler as one of Georgia's senators in a special November election. Many experts believe the players' vocal public support was instrumental in Senator Warnock victory, giving control of the senate to democrats.
The new ownership team made clear where they stand on player activism.
"The last year, the players of the Dream refused to just shut up and dribble,'" new owner Gottesdiener said in a conference call announcing the sale. "They found their collective voice and the world listened. We were inspired by these brave women who advocated sports and activism in the midst of the pandemic, and we want to celebrate and honor them. We're particularly proud to be stewards of this team in this city at this time.'"
Montgomery is engaged so singer-songwriter Sirena Grace. She famously sat out the 2020 season to devote her attention and activism to social justice issues before recently announcing her retirement from the league. Her new co-owner Adair is also out.
While Montgomery is no longer scoring points on the hardwood floor, she made clear she is very excited about her future with the team.