The Sky were among six teams sitting out Thursday as the WNBA postponed games for a second consecutive day following the weekend police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
In the WNBA bubble in Bradenton, Florida, the Sky were scheduled to face the Fever, the Liberty were to meet the Wings and the Aces were set to play the Storm.
“This is not a strike. This is not a boycott. This is affirmatively a day of reflection, a day of informed action and mobilization,” Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike, the WNBA players’ union president, told ESPN.
Sky owners Michael Alter and John Rogers pledged their support to their players in a statement: “The principal owners of the Chicago Sky are incredibly proud of the inspiring and courageous leadership on social-justice issues displayed by the powerful women of the Sky and the WNBA, and we continue to support their ongoing efforts to shine a light on these injustices — especially towards women of color — and their actions to make our nation better, stronger and equitable.”
So far, six games have been postponed over two nights. The league had just passed its halfway mark of the 22-game season. With teams playing pretty much every other day in the bubble, the postponed games most likely will have to be made up after the regular season ends Sept. 12.
Unlike Wednesday night, when four teams were at the arena discussing whether to play nearly up until the 6 p.m. tip, the decision to postpone the games Thursday was made hours before the scheduled starts.
Ogwumike said players planned to resume play Friday.
“I feel like, as a group, we decided last night we want to play,” she said. “There are games scheduled [Friday that are] what we are ready to do.”
On Wednesday night, WNBA teams held a roughly 30-minute vigil back at the IMG Academy hotel for Blake, 29, who was shot seven times by police Sunday. The vigil was led by Ogwumike and Liberty guard Layshia Clarendon, the vice president of the players’ union, and was attended by all players, coaches, staff and officials.
On Thursday, all the players and teams in the bubble got together on the practice courts at IMG Academy, locking arms in a show of unity.
The WNBA and its players have dedicated the season to social justice, with playerswearing the name of Breonna Taylor on the back of their uniforms. Ogwumike said in a statement that players called on the Kentucky attorney general to arrest the killers of Taylor and the Wisconsin attorney general to investigate Blake’s shooting.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician, was shot eight times by plainclothes Louisville police officers serving a narcotics search warrant at her apartment on March 13. No drugs were found. Her family and protesters around the country have called for swift action against the officers who shot her.