Hold the Chamique

By Jeff Lippman - June 12, 2007

One of women's basketball's greats has decided to call it a career--a short career--as Chamique Holdsclaw of the Los Angeles Sparks announced her intent to retire Monday, just weeks into her ninth WNBA season.

The former Tennessee star, who is the Lady Vols career leader in points and rebounds--not for long if Candace Parker has her way--and who led Tennessee to three consecutive national titles, has been troubled the past few seasons.

The 6-foot-2 forward has struggled with the loss of her grandmother in 2002 and grandfather in 2004, fighting bouts of depression along the way.

Those who followed her career in the WNBA saw one of the most talented players ever to hit the court play game in and game out like it was a tiresome job, and not the dream of becoming a professional athlete that children everywhere imagine.

And if she wasn't having fun out there, if it wasn't making her happy, than she should have gotten out. But she could have been a little more timely with her announcement...like maybe before this year began and the Sparks weren't left depleted, already without pregnant Lisa Leslie.

“I always believed that it is important to know when you are ready to walk away from the game, whether you are a coach or a player," said Holdsclaw's former mentor and coach, Tennessee legend Pat Summitt. "It may not always be the popular decision according to others, but I think the most important thing is that she made a decision that was good for her.

"I am happy if she is and she appears to be with her decision. She is in a good frame of mind. She has given a lot to this game, both at the collegiate and professional levels. I think she’s been good for the game and the game has been good for her.”

Summitt hit the nail on the head when she said that Holdsclaw has been good for the game, when she was drafted in 1999 there was no bigger name in the sport. Everything that Candace Parker could become, that is what people thought of Holdsclaw.

Anytime an athlete retires early, especially for reasons other than medical, it is a shame. But when the retiree is one of the game's brightest stars, a player who is just 29-years-old, that is tragic.

Holdsclaw says she has thought about this decision for quite some time and it may be that she just decided to give one more season a chance and realized she didn't have it in her, but the fact is, something strange and mysterious is at play here.

When Barry Sanders decided he was done with the game early he cited that running backs take poundings that he was no longer willing to absorb as his reason. A tragedy yes, but a conscious coherent decision.

So far, we do not know the true reason Chamique chose to hang 'em up, it could very well be we'll be seeing her on a court near you as early as next season, but one thing is certain, there is more to her decision that she is not willing to let on yet.

For every rash decision such as this, there is a reason, and it will just take some time before that reason shows itself.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 03:35 PM on June 12, 2007
Comments (2)


Is it really every childs dream to make it to the wnba?

I agree with Jeff. The true story hasn't come out, yet.

Everyone has a right to do what they think is best, but what about adult responsibility.

Doesn't Holdsclaw have a responsibilty to the Sparks if she is able to play?

But this is the way she has been during her entire pro career.

You can't count on her.

If the real story is never known, then she has been a real disappointment to the women's game.

Dave Wohlhueter

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