When former Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery decided to sit out during the 2020 WNBA season in order to focus on social justice issues, it was the officer-related death of George Floyd that compelled her to act. But little did she know that this tragedy would also serve as a catalyst for a series of events that would eventually position her to make history.
In the immediate aftermath of Floyd’s death, the WNBA went to work. The league launched a Social Justice Council, players donned warmups with phrases like “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Name”, and similar messaging was emblazoned on the court itself. But not everyone within the league was on board with being at the forefront of this social justice movement, as former Georgia Senator and Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler was vocal in her opposition to everything Black Lives Matter stands for.
This created a schism between the entire league and one of its owners, which eventually concluded in not only the WNBA playing a critical role in Loeffler’s humiliating defeat during the Georgia Senate runoffs, but the eventual sale of the Atlanta Dream due to public pressure.
And now, in a full-circle moment, Montgomery—the same player whom Loeffler once refused to meet in order to address her racist rhetoric—is part of a three-member investment group that’s been approved to purchase the Dream, per ESPN.
The 2020 The Root 100 honoree, who recently retired from the WNBA after 11 seasons (and two championships), becomes the first former player in the history of the league to become both an owner and executive of a WNBA franchise. Aside from her duties as a co-owner, the 34-year-old will also serve as vice president of the Dream.
“My Dream has come true,” Montgomery said in a statement. “Breaking barriers for minorities and women by being the first former WNBA player to have both a stake in ownership and a leadership role with the team is an opportunity that I take very seriously. I invite you to join me as the Dream builds momentum in Atlanta!”
“I think it’s great that Renee has stepped up after she retired from playing the game to continue having an impact on the game,’’ WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told reporters on Friday. “I’ve seen her strong work ethic. I’ve seen her advocacy and knowledge of the game and I’m sure that’s going to be an asset to [co-owners] Larry [Gottesdiener] and Suzanne [Abair] and a huge benefit to the team.’’
As previously mentioned, it will also be historic. The two-time WNBA champ is treading uncharted waters and forging new ground for women—Black or otherwise—in sports. And it’s a foregone conclusion that the days of telling Atlanta Dream players to “shut up and dribble” are over.
All hail the queen.