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Be Careful What You Wish For: Renee Montgomery’s Ownership of the Atlanta Dream Still Has LeBron James Laughing at the ‘Shut Up and Dribble’ Crowd

Retired WNBA player Renee Montgomery brought home another win for the culture last week that still has fellow baller LeBron James having a good laugh at the “just shut up and dribble” crowd.

Montgomery, 34, recently made headlines for ousting former Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler from her ownership stake in Montgomery’s former team, the Atlanta Dream. The news holds a particular irony because Loeffler refused to give Montgomery an audience last year when she requested a meeting to discuss social justice concerns.

(L-R) Renee Montgomery and LeBron James. Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images/ Harry How/Getty Images

When George Floyd died in police custody on Memorial Day in Minneapolis, Montgomery and her fellow WNBA players launched a social justice council and were very vocal in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. However, Loeffler was vocal in her opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement, much to the chagrin of the players who called for her to be removed.

James wasn’t hesitant to note the significance of the full-circle moment when he sarcastically tweeted, “Stick to sports …” on Wednesday, March 3, followed by a thinking emoji and link to an article about Montgomery’s historic purchase.

The WNBA first announced on Friday, Feb. 26, that Montgomery was among a three-member investor group, which also includes Larry Gottesdiener and Suzanne Abair, that bought out both Loeffler’s 49 percent stake and that of majority owner Mary Brock. The two-time WNBA champion is the first former player to become both an owner and executive of a WNBA team.

It wasn’t the first time James expressed his excitement at Montgomery once again proving Black athletes have purposes that are much bigger than basketball and they also make historic moves off the court. He tweeted “So proud of this Queen. This is everything we are about!” the day the news broke.

The admiration is mutual, because Montgomery credited James with inspiring her to think about investing in the Dream when he said he may be interesting in taking part in a group to wrest ownership from Loeffler. Montgomery that added her involvement in James’ More Than A Vote campaign connected her to one of her fellow investors.

The UConn alum — who took a year off from playing to focus her efforts on fighting against injustice — expressed how much becoming an owner meant to her as a Black woman.

“My Dream has come true,” Montgomery said at the time in a press release. “Breaking barriers for minorities and women by being the first former WNBA player to have both a stake in ownership and a leadership role with the team is an opportunity that I take very seriously. I invite you to join me as the Dream builds momentum in Atlanta!”

Congratulatory messages continue to pour in for Montgomery from people across the globe. Among them are WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert, who said she has full confidence the WNBA veteran is an asset to the league at the ownership and executive level.

“I think it’s great that Renee has stepped up after she retired from playing the game to continue having an impact on the game,’’ Engelbert said. “I’ve seen her strong work ethic. I’ve seen her advocacy and knowledge of the game and I’m sure that’s going to be an asset to Larry and Suzanne and a huge benefit to the team.’’

James isn’t the only high-profile NBA player to note the major impact and implications of Montgomery’s ownership of the Dream. Golden State guard Steph Curry also gave Montgomery her flowers, saying she was “inspirational.”

“It just speaks for itself in terms of how you flip a terrible situation and misrepresentation of what the WNBA is about on its head,” Curry told sports reporter Kerith Burke. “For Renee and that group to come in, it’s just awesome to see; and it’s very inspirational in terms of where we’re all headed in turning these conversations into actual actions.”

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