The WNBA had been postponed to July 25 due to the coronavirus pandemic and was held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. However, not all players were there. Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud decided to opt out of the 2020 WNBA season. She chooses not to play so that she can focus on social reform and fight for racial equality. 

The Washington Mystics’ all-time assist leader, Cloud posted a lengthy caption on her social media account explaining why she plans to sit out this season. On Instagram, she wrote: 

“This has been one of the toughest decisions of my career. But, I will be foregoing the 2020 WNBA season. There is a lot of factors that led to this decision, but the biggest being that I am more than an athlete. I have a responsibility to myself, to my community, and to my future children to fight for something that is much bigger than myself and the game of basketball. I will instead continue the fight on the front lines for social reform because, until black lives matter, all lives can’t matter.” 

Head coach Mike Thibault was very positive and supportive of her decision. He respects her decision and believes that she should prioritize her life and goals. He said that the Mystics organization would continue to be partners with Cloud on her commitment to social justice reforms throughout the season. 

“We are George Floyd. We are Breonna Taylor. We are Ahmaud Arbery.”

For the past few months, the starting point guard for the reigning WNBA champion, Washington Mystics, witnessed three crucial deaths that led her to opt-out of the season. “We are George Floyd. We are Breonna Taylor. We are Ahmaud Arbery,” said Cloud. 

She was shocked by the horrific video of George Floyd being killed while in the custody of four Minneapolis Police officers. After seeing him dead on the ground, she wanted to emphasize and realize that this is what every African American men and women live through every day. 

“It’s hard to think about basketball with the climate of what we’re in right now socially after George Floyd was murdered,” Cloud said. “It’s been really hard to be motivated to even play basketball. Because as a Black person in America, you feel it to your core… We feel this differently.”

WBNA Players Who Gave Up Basketball This Season

Along with Cloud, other WNBA players decided to opt-out of the season and fight for social justice. Two guards from Atlanta Dream, Renee Montgomery, and Tiffany Hayes intends to sit out this year to help continue the fight for racial equality. Minnesota Lynx superstar Maya Moore decided to sit out for a second consecutive season to fight for criminal justice reform even before it was known the coronavirus pandemic would disrupt the season schedule.

Converse to Pay Cloud Her WNBA Salary

Natasha Cloud forfeited her salary for the season by sitting out the 2020 WNBA season. The WNBA did not allow players to opt-out of the season without any penalty of not being paid unless the player had medical conditions with severe complications of the coronavirus. However, her news shoe sponsor, Converse, decided to cover her entire forfeited 2020 salary.

Cloud became the first WNBA player to sign with converse. The company saw her as a leader who is not afraid to take a stance and inspire change, which led them to sign Cloud.