By Newsweek |

Kelly Loeffler No Longer Co-Owner of Atlanta Dream Months After Team Staged Protests Against Her

Former Senator Kelly Loeffler will no longer co-own the Atlanta Dream, a WNBA team that staged protests against the Georgia Republican in 2020 for speaking out against the Black Lives Matter movement.

On Friday, the WNBA and NBA boards of governors unanimously approved the sale of the Atlanta Dream to a three-member investor group, ending Loeffler's time as co-owner.

"With the unanimous WNBA and NBA votes, today marks a new beginning for the Atlanta Dream organization," WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. The team will now be owned by investors Larry Gottesdiener and Suzanne Abair, as well as a former Atlanta Dream player, Renee Montgomery.

Before the sale, Loeffler's relationship with the WNBA and Atlanta Dream had been rocky for several months.

The former senator, who previously owned 49 percent of the team, had criticized the basketball league for announcing in July that it would dedicate its upcoming season to "social justice with games honoring the Black Lives Matter movement."

Amid racial justice protests across the nation last summer, the WNBA said it would allow players to wear warm-up jerseys with the words "Black Lives Matter" and "Say Her Name," while "vigorously" advocating for social justice reform.

But Loeffler took issue with that decision and, in response, wrote a letter to the WNBA denouncing the Black Lives Matter movement and criticizing the league.

"The truth is, we need less — not more politics in sports. In a time when polarizing politics is as divisive as ever, sports has the power to be a unifying antidote," Loeffler wrote in the letter, which was published in the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"I adamantly oppose the Black Lives Matter political movement, which has advocated for the defunding of police, called for the removal of Jesus from churches and the disruption of the nuclear family structure, harbored anti-Semitic views, and promoted violence and destruction across the country," she added.

Kelly Loeffler

Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler walks to an all-senators briefing on the coronavirus from Trump administration officials on February 25, 2020. Mark Wilson/Getty

In response, members of the Atlanta Dream and other players across the league staged protests against Loeffler and publicly supported her political opponent, Raphael Warnock, during Georgia's 2020 Senate race. Loeffler lost to Warnock during a runoff in January.

"When we realized what our owner was doing and how she was kind of using us and the Black Lives Matter movement for her political gain, we felt like we didn't want to feel kind of lost as the pawns in this," Elizabeth Williams, who has played for the Dream since 2016, told The New York Times in August.

At that time, Loeffler faced calls for her resignation and removal from the league, but she indicated that she would not budge.

"It's very important we have conservative voices in sports, people that are willing to speak out and stand up for what's right for our country," she said in August.

On Friday, Loeffler and former fellow co-owner Mary Brock commented on the team's recent sale, saying they "wish the team well in their next chapter."

"Ten years ago we stepped up to keep the Dream in Atlanta, as an important asset for a vibrant and diverse city. It was also important to us to help level the playing field for women's professional sports," Loeffler and Brock said, according to a WNBA statement.

"We are proud of what we accomplished and wish the team well in their next chapter. We will always value the hard work and dedication, and the memories, fans and friendships, that sustained our commitment to the Atlanta Dream over the last decade," they added.

Newsweek contacted Loeffler for additional comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

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