July 26, 2020
Breonna Taylor at the forefront of Sparks opening day win
Sparks dominate Mercury
The Los Angeles Sparks tipped off their first game of the 2020 WNBA season against the Phoenix Mercury in impressive fashion, turning a 50-46 halftime lead into a 99-76 victory.
The team’s big 3 in Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike, and Chelsea Gray combined for 47 points, and they got big contributions off the bench from newcomers Seimone Augustus, Brittney Sykes, and Te’a Cooper.
But while basketball returned to the nation this weekend, the focus for the Sparks was very clearly on what is going on in the country off the court. The WNBA adorned their court with ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and the league’s newly formed Social Justice Council announced they would be dedicating the season to the memory of Breonna Taylor
Taylor was asleep when she was killed by police officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department back in March when they broke into her home while serving a no-knock search warrant.
Not only did Sparks players have Taylor’s name etched on their jerseys, they also wore shirts that said ‘We Are Breonna Taylor’ during postgame media availability.
The message hit particularly close to Gray who is just one year older than Taylor.
“It’s hurtful, a police officer could break into my apartment and do the exact same thing. I could be in her shoes,” Gray told reporters after the game. “We’re dying, people are killing us. We can’t keep quiet. There has to be a movement among everyone. As a Black woman, it gets emotional just thinking about it, I have people around me, my teammates, my family, that could’ve been in that situation.”
For Parker, the message holds a special meaning as well. Her daughter Lailaa is with her in Florida for the season. Parker joined other WNBA players on a recent zoom call with the mother of Taylor.
As a mother herself, Parker stressed the importance of the youth being able to see the WNBA tip-off this weekend and about discussing the message the league is trying to get across.
“Lailaa and I have had many conversations about why we’re wearing Breonna Taylor’s name across our chest and what it means. I look at it with a different perspective. As a mother, you would never want that to happen to your child,” Parker told reporters after the game. “I think it’s so important for young girls and young boys, and adults…to see our game today and see what we play for and what we’re going to be playing for the rest of the season.”
The Sparks will continue their season on Tuesday night against the Chicago Sky.
Written by David Yapkowitz
David has been with The Next team since the High Post Hoops days when he joined the staff in 2018. He is based in Los Angeles and covers the LA Sparks, Pac-12 Conference, Big West Conference and some high school as well.