The WNBA’s Washington Mystics wore shirts with bullet holes while leading the league to strike for Jacob Blake

  • WNBA players are abstaining from play in light of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man shot seven times in the back by a police officer.
  • Though players initially intended to forge on with Wednesday's slate even after the NBA's players forced their games' cancelation, the Washington Mystics could not bring themselves to play.
  • While explaining their decision on national television, the Mystics players wore white T-shirts that spelled out Blake's name on the front and featured seven bloody bullet holes on the back.
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WNBA players scratched games scheduled for Wednesday night in response to resurging protests against police brutality in light of the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Players on the Washington Mystics led the charge for the WNBA strike after deciding collectively that they could not bring themselves to play. And in addition to delivering strong words to explain that choice on national television, the Mystics made a strong statement visually by wearing T-shirts as a tribute to Blake, a Black man whom Kenosha, Wisconsin, officers shot seven times in the back on Sunday.

While speaking with ESPN's Holly Rowe and joining their WNBA colleagues on the court at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, Washington's players wore white T-shirts that spelled Blake's name on the front. On the back, the Mystics drew seven bloody bullet holes to represent the seven shots Blake took in front of his children earlier in the week.

Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

"This isn't just about basketball," Atkins told ESPN's Holly Rowe. "We aren't just basketball players. Just because we are basketball players doesn't mean that's our only platform. We need to understand that when most of us go home, we still are Black."

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"We're not just basketball players," she added. "And if you think we are, then don't watch us. You're watching the wrong sport because we're so much more than that. We're going to say what we need to say, and people need to hear that. And if they don't support that, I'm fine with that."

Though players across the WNBA initially intended to forge on with Wednesday's slate even after the NBA's players forced the cancelation of their own games, Washington's team ultimately relented. After the Mystics disclosed their decision, players on the league's five other teams scheduled to compete on Wednesday night chose to follow suit.

The league itself confirmed in a statement that Wednesday night's games had been postponed, not canceled. But like in the NBA, the future of the 2020 WNBA season appears to rest in the hands of the players. Whether or not Thursday's slate or any subsequent games will continue as scheduled still remains to be seen.

Representatives for the Washington Mystics did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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