WNBA team owner out after Black Lives Matter clash
Former US senator Kelly Loeffler’s controversial stint as a WNBA team owner ended Friday as the women’s league and NBA board of governors approved the sale of the Atlanta Dream.
Larry Gottesdiener, chairman of the Massachusetts-based real estate private equity firm Northland Investment Corporation, heads the three-member investment group taking control of the team which also includes Northland president Suzanne Abair and former Dream star Renee Montgomery.
Montgomery becomes the first former player to become both an owner and executive of a WNBA team.
“With the unanimous WNBA and NBA votes, today marks a new beginning for the Atlanta Dream organization and we are very pleased to welcome Larry Gottesdiener and Suzanne Abair to the WNBA,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said.
“I admire their passion for women’s basketball, but more importantly, have been impressed with their values. I am also thrilled that former WNBA star Renee Montgomery will be joining the ownership group as an investor and executive for the team.
“Renee is a trailblazer who has made a major impact both in the game and beyond.”
Players around the WNBA called for called for Loeffler to sell her 49 percent share in the Dream in July after she wrote to Engelbert to object to WNBA initiatives to support the Black Lives Matter movement and advocate for racial justice.
“The truth is, we need less — not more politics in sports,” Loeffler said.
Past and present WNBA players had already been angered by a Loeffler appearance on Fox News in which the Donald Trump supporter called armed Black protesters in Atlanta “mob rule”, though she is a vocal supporter of the right to bear arms in the United States.
Montgomery, who opted out of the 2020 season to focus her time on social justice issues, tweeted of those comments: “The second amendment is a part of the Bill of Rights. The problem some may be having is who is bearing the arms.”
At the time, Loeffler was a Republican senator representing Georgia, but she was defeated by Democrat Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Martin Luther King’s Atlanta church who Loeffler had once branded a “radical liberal” who threatened American values.
Dream players actively campaigned against Loeffler during the Senate run-off election in Georgia, pointedly wearing “Vote Warnock” T-shirts before a game against Phoenix in August.
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