Former Dream star Angel McCoughtry speaks about Loeffler, WNBA season

Angel Mccoughtry, a member of the Atlanta Dream, helped the U.S. women's basketball team- riding a 49-match Olympic winning streak - capture another gold in Rio.

Credit: Tom Pennington

Credit: Tom Pennington

Angel Mccoughtry, a member of the Atlanta Dream, helped the U.S. women's basketball team- riding a 49-match Olympic winning streak - capture another gold in Rio.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who also co-owns the Dream, released a letter Tuesday objecting to the WNBA’s plans to honor and participate in the “Black Lives Matter” movement during its coming season.

Loeffler’s comments were met with backlash and calls for her to be removed from the league.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke with longtime Dream star and two-time Olympian Angel McCoughtry, who now plays for the Las Vegas Aces, about her former owner’s comments, Loeffler’s place in the league and the WNBA season.

This conversation has been edited for clarity.

Q: You led the campaign to honor women who were victims of police brutality, like Breonna Taylor who was killed in her home in Louisville, to be honored on the back of jerseys during the season. Why was that important to you? 

A: It was really important to me, not just for Louisville -- of course that hit home a little bit. But just in general, we were just tired of seeing so much happen, one after the next after the next. We get to see it on video. But it was just important to try to find some type of initiative while playing basketball that we could kind of advocate for. That's how we were able to do the Say Her Name campaign, and it has become a big success. So I've been really proud of what's come out of it.

Q: Kelly Loeffler made her comments on the league’s initiatives public on Tuesday. There’s been calls from players for Kelly Loeffler to leave the WNBA. Why is it important to you and other WNBA players for that to happen?

A: I think because she's definitely going against what we stand for. First of all, women. And why are you going against women having a voice and doing something right? You have time to write a letter to our commissioner about this. Write a letter to the families (of victims of police brutality) and write your condolences. How about that? Her focus is wrong right now. It's not like we're out here advocating hate. Who wants to stop something that's right? I'm actually shocked by her actions. Sometimes you gotta play the political game, and I get it. But don't mess with us in this political game. I know you gotta please your counterparts, if that's the case, then let them know that we've been in your home. We've (broken) bread with you. If this is the person that she really is, I know that I don't wanna be around someone who just doesn't advocate for what's right.

Q: In early April you spoke about Loeffler as an owner, saying she was a supporter of the Dream and WNBA and was someone that always had your back. How much has your mind changed on that? Do you feel differently?

A: I did tweet about that and I did feel like she was someone who would've had my back. I did feel like she was someone who was a nice person. But I had to go back and think about it, and say "You know what, I don't get to see people's true colors." Because when you're a star athlete, you're not gonna see the real things, you're gonna get the facade. Like in Louisville, I never witnessed any social injustices or prejudices in Kentucky. It's evident that in Kelly's case, she's saying she doesn't support LGBTQ, but if that's the case then why would you have players who are in the LGBTQ community in your home. It's all kinda like a double standard, even with the men who had the guns. They're called the mob. When they're Caucasian Americans, they aren't called mobs. So why is everything a double standard right now? I was like, "Hey Kelly, blink twice if you really need us."

Q: You wrote that “I have tons of people who are ready for ownership.” What did you mean by that and who do you have in mind?

A: I was just saying, there's so many people that could be the owner. I don't even understand why she would want to continue to be the owner if she was going to advocate differently than what these women stand for. I have a friend from Lebanon who's ready to buy teams. There's plenty of people. I will see how the league is going to approach this.

Q: Do you want to be involved in the process of Atlanta finding a new owner?

A: I'm not with Atlanta anymore. So Atlanta is not my focus. I've done my part in Atlanta. And I've spoken up on a lot of things I felt that weren't right in Atlanta. You know how that goes when you start speaking up on things. And not just on Kelly Loeffler, there's other things. That's why I'm not there. But my energy's not there anymore. My energy's in Las Vegas. I love Bill, I love my teammates, and I'm excited to be here. This is where I belong.

Q: Last question, how are you feeling about being in Florida, and what’s it been like practicing and playing with the Aces?

A: The bubble's been cool. I have a lot of time to get work done. I'm going outside to do workouts until we can workout with the team because we have to quarantine for a week. We're safer in the bubble than out in the real world, so I just look at it like summer camp. I'm excited to play with some of (this) amazing talent. I'm just ready to play with A'ja Wilson, Liz (Cambage), Kayla McBride. Of course, Kelsey Plum when she gets back. Watching them last year, I had chills watching them hit the half-court shot (to advance in the playoffs). Of course, at that time I didn't know I was gonna be on that team. It's funny because years ago, Vegas didn't make the playoffs. And I remember we were shaking hands after the game, and I had looked at A'ja. I could tell she was kinda upset, and I looked at A'ja and I said, "A'ja, it's coming." I said "Be patient, it's coming." And I could tell she really took that. But now, to know that I'm her teammate. And it's here. I'm really excited to be a part of the process of being (here) now. It's really cool.