When Converse announced it had signed its first women’s basketball player, Natasha Cloud, to a shoe deal the company praised her social justice activism.
It is standing behind that three weeks later with a pay day. The company offered to cover 100 percent of Cloud’s 2020 salary, Girls Talk Sports TV reported, after she opted out of the ’20 WNBA season set to start in Florida next month. She said she wants to remain on the front lines to focus on social reform.
REPORT: After making the decision to opt out of the 2020 @WNBA season to focus on social justice matters, @Converse offered to cover 100 percent of @T_Cloud4’s salary. Cloud recently became the first WNBA player to sign a shoe deal with the brand. #wnba pic.twitter.com/3RLZVueBj7— Girls Talk Sports TV (@GrlsTalkSports_) June 29, 2020
Cloud retweeted the report and comments praising Converse.
“I got some good people and company’s behind me,” she wrote in reply to one. Converse released a statement Tuesday, via NBC Sports Washington.
Converse has immense respect for Natasha Cloud's decision to forgo the WNBA season. These systemic racial justice issues are bigger than basketball. To be able to put her career and passion on hold in order to devote her energy, voice and platform to change demonstrates her integrity and strength. We are proud to have her on the Converse team, are humbled to match her forfeited players salary and look forward to working together with Natasha on these issues as well as supporting her vision in this space.
Converse signed Cloud earlier this year, but waited to announce it on the champion’s request when the death of George Floyd in police custody sparked protests throughout the nation.
“Cloud is known for extending her influence through leadership efforts that place emphasis on being a voice for the voiceless, specifically using her platform to speak out against the racial injustices that are killing Black people in America, while also advocating for equality for women and the LGBTQ+ community and working to guide youth in her communities,” Converse said in the news release.
The company also made a $25,000 donation to a racial justice organization in Philadelphia, near where Cloud grew up, and is making a film focused on Cloud advocating for change.
Cloud is one of a handful of WNBA players so far to opt out of the season for either social justice causes or due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She and Atlanta Dream star Renee Montgomery both mentioned specifically continuing their work for social justice as the nation reckons with racial relations.
Players who opt out of the season will not receive their full pay for the year. Players began getting their paychecks on time June 1; those who opt out will not be paid once July rolls around. Cloud, 28, was set to make approximately $117,000 this season, per Spotrac, after signing an extension.
The Mystics gathered for a socially distant celebration on Sunday for their 2019 championship and received championship rings. Mystics star LaToya Sanders has also opted out of the 2020 season. There are questions if reigning MVP Elena Della Donne will decide to play since has Lyme disease.
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