Dream's Montgomery to skip WNBA season to focus on social reform

(Reuters) - Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery will sit out the new Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) season to focus on social justice reform.

The death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in police custody in Minneapolis last month, has triggered outrage and protests across the world.

The 2020 WNBA season will begin in late July with games contested without any fans in attendance at a single site in Florida.

However, Montgomery, 33, said she will give the tournament a pass and instead focus on fuelling the Black Lives Matter movement.

“If I go into the WNBA season, I know I won’t be able to give 100%, and that’s not fair to my coaches and team mates,” the two-times WNBA champion wrote in the Players’ Tribune.

“I know that if I did go into the ‘bubble’ who knows what it’s going to look like in four months, as far as the movement is concerned? I just want to make sure that I’m fuelling the movement.

“As I’m writing this, I’m like, ‘did I really just opt out of the season?’ I’m as shocked as everyone else.”

Montgomery, who started a foundation last year to help impact the lives of people through sports, said she hopes to return to basketball once she’s made a positive change in the community.

“My heart is telling me that I have a different mission right now that I have to see through,” she added.

Dream coach Nicki Collen said she supported Montgomery’s decision.

“While I am saddened Renee will not be in a Dream uniform this summer, I am proud of her passion for her foundation... and her chance to impact the BLM movement with her platform as a WNBA athlete,” Collen told ESPN.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar