LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Sparks received a letter from a Minnesota fan who thanked them for taking a stand and going into the locker room for the national anthem before the first two games of the WNBA Finals.
While there were a lot of boos before Game 2, the fan wanted to make sure the Sparks players knew there were also a lot of people applauding their stance.
“(In the letter), she expressed her respect and honored what we did going into the locker room, representing the women in sports and what we’re dealing with right now,” Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike said. “That kind of stuff really means a lot. So thanks, Jessica. I think her name was Jessica. I think that’s awesome. I would hope our fans would understand as well. I think everyone knows right now it’s all about unity, togetherness and acceptance.”
Los Angeles isn’t sure what type of reception they’ll get from their fans on Friday before Game 3 of the series, but they most likely will stay in the locker room for the anthem again.
“I go to drop my daughter (Lailaa, 8) off at school and there’s every race, every ethnicity, every religion, everything at her school. I get spoiled with that. I think that’s normal, you know? And it’s not,” Candace Parker said. “I think you have to respect the growth of other parts of the county and the growth of other things. I respect it. But, you have to respect me as well and my opinions. You have the right to boo. It’s the First Amendment. Boo. Boo all you want. Don’t agree with me, but we’re still going to do it.”
While the Sparks have stayed in the locker room, the Lynx have remained on the court locking arms.
“It was a symbol of unity and also wanting to take advantage of that moment to highlight the lack of unity in certain places and the call to stand unified,” said Lynx center Maya Moore. “That’s what the locking of the arms was for us.”
Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles, the MVP of the WNBA, respects the decision of the Sparks to protest in whatever way they choose.
“I really don’t see a problem with it. I think it’s what the team agreed upon,” Fowles said. “Our team, we just tried to keep it smooth, I guess. We didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes. I don’t disagree with the approach L.A. has taken at all, if that’s what they want to do.
They have a platform to voice what they want. I’m all in.”
Ogwumike, who is also president of the executive council of the players’ union, wasn’t expecting the reaction they got before Game 2.
“I was very surprised the Minnesota fans booed the second game, considering all the articles that came out as to why we did it,” Ogwumike said. “It was no disrespect to Minnesota at all. That kind of shocked me.”
Last year, Minnesota players wore “Black Lives Matters” t-shirts before a home game.
“You’re going to have different sides, people who agree with you and people who don’t,” Parker said. “The point is we did it together as a unit. It means a lot to be able to voice our opinion and what we feel. I don’t think the old me maybe would’ve cared as much. I have a daughter now. She’s growing up in this world. I want to make sure I leave it better than I came into it. My teammates will tell you I’m extremely passionate about this because it’s important for our future generations. I believe strongly that we’re on the right side of history.”
The Sparks are also trying to make history on the court, becoming the first WNBA team to repeat as champions since the franchise did it in 2001-02. The first two games have come down to the wire with the Sparks winning Game 1 and the Lynx holding on for Game 2. That same situation happened last season when the Sparks ended up beating the Lynx in five games. Los Angeles won Game 3 last year.