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The WNBA has withdrawn fines given out to teams and players for wearing black warm-up shirts before games in a show of support for citizens and police involved in recent shootings across the country and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The teams fined included the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty, and Phoenix Mercury. (The Minnesota Lynx wore shirts once and decided to change their tactics and were not fined.) A $5,000 penalty was levied against each team with $500 fines charged to each player. All fines were rescinded after igniting a storm of controversy. NBA star Carmelo Anthony was among those to publicly criticize the fines, and Reverend Al Sharpton had said that his organization, The National Action Network would pay them and called the penalty “unacceptable.” Indiana Fever All-Star Tamika Catchings, who is the president of the players’ union also publicly expressed disappointment in the WNBA’s actions, telling ESPN before the Olympic break, “Instead of the league taking a stance with us, where they tell us they appreciate our expressing our concerns like they did for Orlando, we’re fighting against each other.” Catching’s charge being that the league treated expressing a sentiment about the deadly shooting of 49 people in the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando differently than what they were supporting now.

On Saturday night, WNBA President Lisa Borders released a statement rescinding the fines:

“All of us at the WNBA have the utmost respect and appreciation for our players expressing themselves on matters important to them.  While we expect players to comply with league rules and uniform guidelines, we also understand their desire to use their platform to address important societal issues.  Given that the league will now be suspending play until August 26th for the Olympics, we plan to use this time to work with our players and their union on ways for the players to make their views known to their fans and the public and we have informed the players that we are rescinding the recently-imposed fines.”

Borders’ announcement is posted HERE at WNBA.com.  

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