It’s official: less than two months after WNBA players helped oust Kelly Loeffler from her U.S. Senate seat, Loeffler is no longer an owner of the Atlanta Dream.
On Friday, it was announced that the WNBA and NBA Boards of Governors had unanimously approved the sale of the Atlanta Dream to Larry Gottesdiener, the Chairman of Northland, a real estate firm. The three-member investor group also includes two-time WNBA champion Renee Montgomery and Northland President and COO Suzanne Abair.
WNBA players have been calling for Loeffler to sell her 49 percent stake in the Dream since last June, when she wrote a letter to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert objecting to the league’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement. When Loeffler didn’t immediately sell, players changed their messaging to focus on Loeffler’s role as a U.S. Senator, endorsing her opponent, Democrat Raphael Warnock. Warnock ultimately defeated Loeffler in a January 5th runoff election, which combined with Jon Ossoff‘s victory, flipped control the U.S. Senate.
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The players’ association (WNBPA) released a statement about today’s sale, which referenced Loeffler’s tenure as a co-owner without using her name. It said, in part, “It is our fervent wish that we shall never see again such an abuse of power and arrogant display of privilege. It is our hope that no one will ever again attempt to use the players for individual political gain or favor.”
In a media call on Friday afternoon, Engelbert made a point to thank the players. “[The Atlanta Dream] players were put in a difficult position. I was proud of the way that they handled the situation. They stood for their values with the utmost professionalism; they served as role models for advocacy and continued success.”
Montgomery, who announced her retirement earlier this month, played 11 seasons in the WNBA, winning two championship titles (2015, 2017). She played her last two WNBA seasons with the Atlanta Dream (2018, 2019) before taking the 2020 season off to focus on social justice issues. Montgomery is the first former player to become an owner and executive of a WNBA team.
“My Dream has come true,” Montgomery said in the WNBA’s press release. “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. I invite you to join me as the Dream builds momentum in Atlanta!”
On Friday’s media call, Montgomery also discussed how she became a part of the ownership group, noting that while she first started thinking about team ownership in October 2020, her interest was renewed after LeBron’s tweet on January 6.
Think I’m gone put together an ownership group for the The Dream. Whose in? #BlackVotesMatter✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/9wclgdED2w
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 6, 2021
“That tweet actually prompted [it],” Montgomery explained. “When I saw [Lebron’s] tweet, knowing the connection that I have with ‘More than a Vote’ and their connection to the league and the WNBA, I just reached out to him. I was like, ‘Hey, if you guys are serious, I’m interested as well’… So I have to thank [‘More than a Vote’] because I wouldn’t be talking to you guys if it weren’t for that group.”Follow @AlexAzziNBC