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WNBA president wants teams to have community conversations

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Lisa Borders and WNBA players are ready to move forward.

With the league resuming play this weekend after a month-long Olympic break, Borders outlined to The Associated Press a plan to have teams and players hold conversations in the community similar to what Carmelo Anthony and the U.S. Olympic basketball teams did in Los Angeles last month. The WNBA president said that was a solid blueprint for what can be done in each WNBA city.

"We've created a guide book which will enable each of our teams to take that same concept and bring it to life in their market," Borders said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Our players are ready to start that phase and lead it with their colleagues from the NBA and if there are folks from other sports franchises that want to participate we'll welcome that as well."

Borders didn't give a timetable of when the plan would be implemented. The league had fined three teams and their players last month for wearing shirts to show solidarity after shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The fines were later rescinded a few days later, right before the Olympic break.

"I think it would be great. Anything would be great," said Liberty center Tina Charles. "It's embarrassing that it got to the point that it got to. The fact that president Lisa Borders is willing to take the next step forward, it's not about keeping the players happy. It's because you need to show your support in what your players need. We're happy and thrilled that something will get done."

Charles had been one of the most outspoken WNBA players in support of the movement. She wore her warmup shirt inside-out in the Liberty's last game before the Olympic break even after the teams had been fined.

"She's a young woman that has a strong voice, a compelling voice and she's found that voice and is using it in a very constructive way and I am proud of her and I told her that," Borders said. "If you call that clearing the air, this is the commissioner saying you go girl. I'm very happy with her and for her."

Tamika Catchings, who is president of the players association, attended and spoke at the Los Angeles meeting. She said that she and Pacers star Paul George came away from that event planning on doing their own community conversation in Indianapolis. She welcomed Borders' idea as a positive move.

"It's a great step forward. Great that we can come together and do it united and have a united front that we always talk about," Catchings said.

Despite the contentiousness before the break, Borders was proud of the players for taking a stance.

"Any movement in modern history has started with young people," she said. "This was no exception. I'm a child of the civil rights movement. ... There are issues in the world today in our country that we need to deal with. Our players felt the need to speak up and I think that's a good thing."