The WNBA and the NBA approved the sale of the Atlanta Dream on Friday, placing ownership in the hands of investor group led by Northland real estate Chairman Larry Gottesdiener, company COO Suzanne Abair and former Dream star Renee Montgomery.
Montgomery retired this month after 11 seasons in the WNBA and became the first former player to own a WNBA team.
This is Montgomery’s second venture into owning a sports franchise. In January she partnered with former NFL player Marshawn Lynch as co-owner of Team Beasts in the new Fan Controlled Football League.
Friday’s announcement ended the 10-year investor stake for owner Kelly Loeffler, who lost her bid for Senate last month.
Splintering between the former Georgia senator and Dream players began last year during the Black Lives Matter protests, where sports athletes played a large role in megaphoning the moment to the masses.
Loeffler, a conservative who aligned herself with overt racists, bigots and white supremacists, opposed the social justice initiatives led by sports teams. Loeffler penned a letter to WNBA commissioner Cathy Englebert last summer in an attempt to reduce the importance around the organization’s social justice initiatives.
Loeffler’s stance created tension for Black WNBA players, an organization with a large percentage of Black players who were affected by the ongoing killings of their community members around America. 70 percent of WNBA players are Black, similar to the NBA where 74.2 percent of the players are Black. Players began advocating for Leoffler to sell her stake in the team.
“We are the women of the Atlanta Dream,” Dream players said in a July 10 statement. “We are women who support a movement. We are strong and we are fearless. We offer a voice to the voiceless. Our team is united in the Movement for Black Lives. It is not extreme to demand change after centuries of inequality. This is not a political statement. This is a statement of humanity. Black lives matter,” the team said in a response to Loeffler’s criticism.
At one point they even donned t-shirts that said “Vote Warnock,” advocating for Loeffler’s opponent at the polls during the Senate runoff races, Rev. Raphael Warnock.
Montgomery sprung into action around ownership after NBA star LeBron James expressed interest in purchasing the team earlier this year.
Loeffler and former co-owner Mary Brock released a statement in support of the new ownership.