WNBA players honored for justice movement


Posted at Sep 21 2020 12:05 PM

The Connecticut Sun kneel during the national anthem before game against the Las Vegas Aces on September 3, 2020 at the Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

The WNBA has announced that all of its players are the recipients of the league's Community Assist Award for 2020, for their continued commitment, leadership and collaborative efforts to promote racial equality and systemic change.

The WNBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by State Farm was previously awarded to one player for each month of the season. It recognized an individual who best reflects the league's passion for making a difference in the community.

This year, the WNBA and State Farm present the season-long award to all players in recognition of their collective passion and dedication to social justice. 

"Through the years and especially this season, WNBA players have worked together tirelessly to combat social injustice and racial inequality, and this award is a testament to each and every player’s dedication to advocating for change," head of WNBA league operations Bethany Donaphin said in a statement.

With WNBA players leading the way, the WNBA and the Women's National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) created a bold new platform, The WNBA Justice Movement, to amplify the voices and leadership of WNBA players in the social justice space. 

With the creation of this platform and the launch of the WNBA/WNBPA Social Justice Council, WNBA players have worked to bring awareness to and fight against systemic racism. 

In partnership with the African American Policy Forum (AAPF), which created the #SayHerName campaign in 2014, WNBA players have shed light on the policy issues contributing to police brutality and racial violence and connected with the families of female victims to elevate their stories. 

WNBA players continue to "Say Her Name" throughout the season as they aim to be a voice for the voiceless. 

Throughout the 2020 season, in addition to having "Black Lives Matter" featured prominently on the floor, Breonna Taylor's name on the uniforms, and "Say Her Name" on warmup shirts, WNBA players have worked with AAPF to have on-court moments of recognition to raise awareness of the female victims of police brutality.

Through the leadership of the Social Justice Council, the players have called for action to address the policy issues highlighted by AAPF, convened activists, organizers, and elected officials in powerful forums, and promoted community education on the census and voting rights. 

The WNBA and State Farm will donate $50,000 to the AAPF in recognition of the WNBA players' commitment to The WNBA Justice Movement and to the #SayHerName campaign.

Wilson is MVP for the first time 

Last week, the WNBA recognized A'ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces as the Most Valuable Player for the 2020 season.

This is the first WNBA MVP award for Wilson, who was the Rookie of the Year in 2018 and an All-Star selection in 2018 and 2019.

Wilson received 43 of 47 first place votes, and garnered a total of 458 votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Seattle Storm forward Breanna Steward placed second, with 308 points, and Los Angeles Sparks veteran Candace Parker came in third place with 219 points.

In her third WNBA season, Wilson 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 blocked shots and 1.23 steals in 31.7 minutes per game over the 22-game season. She led the Aces to the best record in the WNBA (18-4). Las Vegas received a double bye into the WNBA Semifinals, which will begin on Sunday, Sept. 20.

Meanwhile, Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve was named the 2020 WNBA Coach of the Year, the third time in her career that she has received the honor.

For the second season in a row, Las Vegas Aces forward Dearica Hamby was selected as the Sixth Woman of the Year.

Minnesota Lynx guard Crystal Dangerfield won Rookie of the Year honors, becoming the first player not selected in the first round to win the award.

Dangerfield was the 16th overall pick in the WNBA Draft. She became the fifth player in franchise history to be named Rookie of the Year, joining Betty Lennox (1999), Seimone Augustus (2006), Maya Moore (2011) and Napheesa Collier (2019). 

She led the Lynx in scoring with 16.2 points per game.