BY Cassandra Negley
The WNBA and NBA Board of Governors have unanimously approved the sale of the Atlanta Dream to a three-member investor group, the team announced Friday.
Investors include chairman of real estate group Northland, Larry Gottesdiener, Northland President and COO Suzzane Abair, and former Dream star Renee Montgomery.
Former U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) is no longer an owner.
Last summer, co-owner Loeffler stood in opposition to the social justice messaging the WNBA chose to represent throughout their season, calling the Black Lives Matter movement an anti-Semitic group based on Marxist principles. Her comments prompted immediate calls for her to sell the team.
“With the unanimous WNBA and NBA votes, today marks a new beginning for the Atlanta Dream organization and we are very pleased to welcome Larry Gottesdiener and Suzanne Abair to the WNBA,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in a team statement. “I admire their passion for women’s basketball, but more importantly, have been impressed with their values. I am also thrilled that former WNBA star Renee Montgomery will be joining the ownership group as an investor and executive for the team. Renee is a trailblazer who has made a major impact both in the game and beyond.”
Montgomery played her final two seasons in the WNBA for the Dream and announced her retirement following her 11-year career in February. She opted out of the 2020 season to focus on social justice reforms.
Montgomery becomes the first former player to be an owner and an executive of a WNBA team
“My Dream has come true,” said Renee Montgomery. “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!”
LeBron James helped Montgomery buy Atlanta Dream
James and his organization, Montgomery credited, was what connected her to the right people to make her dream of transitioning from the team’s star player to the team’s owner.
With the help of James and More Than A Vote, Montgomery was able to meet with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert to talk about next steps.
The 34-year-old two-time WNBA champion opted out of the 2020 season to focus on social justice issues, and then retired officially earlier this month — which paved the way for her to buy in with the ownership group.
Without James and More Than A Vote helping her, though, Montgomery knows this wouldn’t have been possible.
“I wouldn’t be talking to you guys if it weren’t for that group,” she said. “They were just very welcoming in a sense of, ‘OK, yes let me see what I can do.’ They constantly were there for me, and that’s what I think community looks like … That’s what it’s all about. They all saw my vision and my passion behind it and they all wanted to help.”
Founded in 2007, the Dream has qualified for the WNBA Playoffs eight times and has reached the WNBA Finals three times.
SOURCE: USA TODAY