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Ahead of Saturday’s WNBA tip-off Saturday, the league dedicated the season to Breonna Taylor, an unarmed 26-year-old Black woman killed by Louisville police in her home in March.
The New York Liberty and Seattle Storm held a 26-second silence to honor Taylor ahead of the season’s first game at the IMG Academy in Florida. Both teams also players had Taylor’s name on the back of their jerseys.
Phoenix Mercury star spoke with The Undefeated about the importance of keeping Taylor’s name alive.
“We don’t get asked enough what’s going on in our communities, and I think that’s a shame,” said Griner. “Yeah, we’re here to play basketball. But basketball doesn’t mean anything in a world where we can’t just live. We can’t wake up and do whatever we want to do. Go for a run, go to the store to buy some candy, drive your car without the fear of being wrongfully pulled over.
“I just want to challenge everybody to do more. Write the story that might be tough. Take a chance. Ask a question that’s tough. Don’t let it be silent.”
Since her death, the Lousiville Police Department has fired just one of the three officers involved in her shooting — but no criminal charges have been filed.
The department claims that former officer, Brett Hankison violated its policy on the use of deadly force, saying he “wantonly and blindly” fired ten shots into Taylor’s apartment on March 13.
The tributes are a good start, but Griner wants to see the league be even more proactive in its fight for social justice.
“I hope by the end of the season the WNBA has taken the initiative to put together some panels within the bubble. Maybe it’s via Zoom, or maybe we can get a guest speaker to come in and be social distanced. There needs to be talks, because I know there are WNBA players who have been directly affected, either seeing or having somebody close to them – they have some really good insight and some experiences that we can share, we can grow, we can learn,” says Griner. “Can’t learn anything if you stay silent.”