• Sandy Brondello (L), Alanna Smith and her Phoenix Mercury teammates (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Australians in the WNBA have revealed the details and raw emotion behind postponing today’s games in the wake of the weekend police shooting of Jacob Blake.
By
Megan Hustwaite

27 Aug 2020 - 3:02 PM  UPDATED 27 Aug 2020 - 3:02 PM

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Three games, including Phoenix Mercury’s match-up with Connecticut Sun, were cancelled as players took a powerful stance.

Athletes from the six teams took a knee, locked arms and raised fists at centre-court in Florida before departing the arena.

The WNBA, and their players, have dedicated their 2020 campaign to social justice with all athletes sporting the name of Breanna Taylor on their uniforms.

Mercury forward, Melbourne’s Alanna Smith, told SBS Sport she was proud to stand in solidarity with her teammates in a powerful nod to Black Lives Matter.

“Today, and the last few days, emotions have been high and it’s felt like there’s stuff bigger than basketball we need to focus on and I think that’s what it amounted to today and why decisions were made," Smith said.

“In the end, basketball is just a game and even though we’re here playing in the bubble, we’re more than just athletes.

"We’ve been feeling these emotions - girls are tired, sad and overwhelmed and needed to do something, they felt the need to take action.

“When Washington first came out and said ‘hey, we don’t feel comfortable playing’ everybody else was like ‘we are right there with you'.

"It doesn’t feel right, it feels off and we need to put the focus on something else right now. Even though we are from different teams, in these moments, we can come together and unify as one.”

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Mercury coach Sandy Brondello described the stance as a moment in time, saying she was feeling proud and emotional.

“I’m very proud of these girls because they’re using their voices for change," Brondello told SBS Sport.

"I mean, enough is enough, isn’t it? It just saddens me.

“The situation (to not play) wasn’t just the NBA, we made those decisions as well and the baseball too to take a strong stance against social injustice, not just in America but all around the world, Australia as well.

“I think maybe in the future we say this is where we started to make real change.”

Communication was open as discussions and plans progressed throughout the day.

“I had a conversation with my players straight after shoot-around today," Brondello explained.

“It was very emotional. We’re white privilege, we try to understand, we have so much compassion and it’s just so wrong when you hear about Jacob Blake, you hear the stories and what happens.

"This could have been any of the girls’ brother or father.

“We just went from there. We were the last game and I stayed in contact with the other coach (Sun's Curt Miller), we sat down, talked on the phone and spoke downstairs as well.

"Our players were in a tough situation emotionally. The first game didn’t play so we weren’t going to play. As the WNBA, we are one big family and a team.”

Brondello praised the strong leadership of the WNBA players.

“They have stood up for what they believe in. Nneka Ogwumike and Layshia Clarendon, the WNBA Players Union President and First Vice President, did a really good job. We’re all in this together and collectively have a very strong voice

“So, we didn’t play and (as a group) we had a little vigil tonight.”