Washington Mystics star Natasha Cloud said she will skip the 2020 WNBA season so she can continue to fight for social reform.
Cloud, 28, announced her decision Monday on social media. She said it was “one of the toughest decisions” of her career.
The Mystics also announced that LaToya Sanders has opted out of the 2020 WNBA season due to health concerns, as has Connecticut Sun star Jonquel Jones.
“There’s a lot of factors that led to this decision, but the biggest being that I am more than an athlete,” Cloud wrote on social media. “I have a responsibility to myself, to my community and to my future children to fight for something that is much bigger than myself and the game of basketball.
“I will instead, continue the fight on the front lines for social reform, because until black lives matter, all lives can’t matter.”
Cloud’s decision follows last week’s news that Atlanta Dream star Renee Montgomery also opted to skip the season to focus on social reform. Former WNBA MVP Maya Moore has skipped the last two seasons to fight for social reform.
Cloud joined Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal in a march from Capital One Arena to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Friday in Washington, D.C. The march was a part of the string of protests in the United States and in Europe after the death of George Floyd.
“We respect and support Natasha’s decision to prioritize her life and goals,” Mystics general manager Mike Thibault said in a news release. “Her commitment to social justice issues is of utmost importance to her and, therefore, to the Mystics organization.
“We will continue to be partners with her and all of our players on their commitment to social justice reform as we go forward into this season and beyond.”
The 2020 WNBA season was scheduled to begin May 15 before it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The league now plans to have a 22-game regular season starting in late July at IMG Academy, a preparatory boarding school and athletic training center in Bradenton, Fla. Players have until Thursday to notify their teams if they plan to play.
Cloud averaged 9.0 points and 5.6 assists per game last season and helped the Mystics win their first WNBA title in franchise history. She has spent her entire five-year career with the Mystics.
Sanders, 33, averaged 6.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season for the Mystics.