A few weeks ago we shared a story about a young basketball team from Charlottesville, VA who, after winning five games in a national tournament, were disqualified because teammate Kymora Johnson is a girl.
Apparently new tournament rules were put in place this year stipulating that girls can play in league games, but they were not allowed in national tournaments. Yes, this is 2015.
Rightfully so, Kymora was disappointed, not just for herself, but for her teammates. She had offered to sit on the bench and take off her uniform so that the Cavaliers could continue to play towards the championship, but officials said no, and the team returned home.
Hearing about Kymora and her team’s story, the WNBA team New York Liberty flew the Cavaliers to Madison Square Garden to play a 20-minute exhibition game to show others that “girls don’t sit on the bench.”
In an interview with The Players’ Tribune, Kristen Bernert, Liberty senior vice president for business and basketball operations, said “When our staff first heard about Kymora and the Charlottesville Cavaliers, we immediately thought about bringing the team to Madison Square Garden. The New York Liberty stands for inclusion, and strives to inspire young women to burn bright in everything they do.”
The Cavaliers (all of them) took to the court this past Saturday night to a standing ovation and cheers from fans and Liberty team players. Certainly a moment Kymora and her teammates will never forget.
When asked in a previous interview if she will show up to the tournament again next year, Kymora responded with a resounding YES saying, “You have to fight for your freedom. You have to fight for the right to do it.”
Yes you do Kymora, but we hope the tournament officials will reconsider their “rule” so that girls can take their rightful place… on the court, not the bench.
Photos by Annie Flanagan/The Players’ Tribune. View more here.