Jessica Hill/AP Photo
Washington Mystics' guard Natasha Cloud will not play in the 2020 WNBA season due to her ongoing fight for social justice.
Jessica Hill/AP Photo
Reigning WNBA champion Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud announced via Instagram this week that she would forego playing the 2020 season to continue her fight for social justice.
Calling it one of the toughest decisions of her career, Cloud wrote: "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."
She's not the only Mystics player to make this call. Post player LaToya Sanders also released a statement through the team alluding to ongoing health and safety concerns being the main reason for stepping away for the season.
"This was not an easy choice to make, but after much thought and conversation, I do believe it is what's best for my health and family. "I wish my teammates and the entire Mystics family the best this season, and I will continue to watch and support them," the statement read.
In the team's statement, general manager Mike Thibault said the Mystics respect both players' decisions.
Cloud and Sanders are two of several WNBA players who will not not join the league when they begin their season in late July in Florida (notably, with no fans in attendance). MVP candidate Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun (who the Mystics defeated in the WNBA finals last year) is also not playing due to coronavirus concerns. And Minnesota Lynx player Maya Moore announced in January that she would sit out her second consecutive season to continue fighting for criminal justice reform and on behalf of Jonathan Irons, a Missouri man who she believes was wrongly convicted of burglary and assault with a gun.
Cloud, who has not responded to DCist's request for comment, has long stood up against injustice. Last June, she organized a media blackout during the season to draw attention to a series of shootings at a Southeast D.C. elementary school. This came after she uploaded a series of Instagram stories of her trip to Hendley Elementary School where staff told her about bullets hitting school windows. Cloud specifically called out Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for not dealing with the shootings. This prompted a curt Twitter response from White.
Last week, Cloud and Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal led their fellow players in a Juneteenth march to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, part of a wave of activism from local Black athletes.
"What's really going to move the needle here is everyone getting involved—and by that I mean all athletes," Cloud wrote in an op-ed for The Players' Tribune late last month. "Because there's no room for any of that silence or 'neutrality' in the athlete community either. Those old excuses about not wanting to lose sponsorships, or not wanting to alienate certain types of fans, or how 'racists buy sneakers too' or whatever?? We don't have time for that. Not when lives are being lost."