What’s up with Chamique?

SLAM has a long history with Chamique Holdsclaw, but that doesn’t mean we understand her decision-making process. We asked our WNBA expert, former W All-Star Adrienne Goodson, to give her take on today’s news.

Chamique has been the biggest reason for the Sparks’ success (3-2 even without Lisa Leslie) so far this season. Holdsclaw averaged 15.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game in those five games, leading the team in points, free throws made and throughout her career ranked in the top three in the league for points, minutes, and field goals. I can go on and on with the never-ending accomplishments of her short-lived career in the WNBA, not to mention Tennessee. From the streets of Queens to UT to DC to East LA, Chamique has held it down.

I spoke to her via email in March, and I remember her words. She asked how I was doing and that my presence in the league was missed. We chatted back and forth about what we are doing these days and I reminded her that I would be looking out for her this season and for her to hold it down. I was so proud of how she was playing. I felt like my words had somehow helped. I mentioned her a few times before the season as someone to watch this year, so I was just as shocked as the next man when I heard about this. The first thing I said was, “Why?”. Then I looked at it from another angle.

Here she is, not even 30 years old and was a three time NCAA champion, SLAM cover subject in ’98, the No. 1 Draft pick and Rookie of the Year in ’99, scoring champion in ’02, Six time WNBA All-Star, Honorable Mention WNBA All-Decade Team and Gold Medalist. What else is there to accomplish? Not much more to strive for, is there?

I said that I wanted to retire when I felt like there was nothing else left for me to gain and when the desire to play was gone. This is a process that is unique for each individual. Who knows when their gonna reach that point? That place of silence as you stand there at the fork in the road and destiny calls you off in another direction. Another place that I’m sure she will have just as much success. It’s inevitable.

The team is obviously devastated by the news. Chamique was having an All-Star season and just like every other Holdsclaw fan I’m lost and searching for answers. Answers that will not manifest right away. There wasn’t much of a statement made by League, Team or Chamique and it’s probably best right now.

“This was not an easy decision,” Holdsclaw said in the WNBA News. “I put a lot of thought into it. I am very grateful for the career I have enjoyed in amateur and professional basketball and will take many fond memories with me. What I will miss most are my teammates and the great friendships I have developed through the years and the fans from arena to arena that have supported me. I want to wish the Sparks great success this season and in the years ahead.”

The Sparks are trying to figure out how to regroup and the WNBA just took another blow but throughout it all it remains to be a business and that’s how the ol’ ball bounces sometimes. Although most non-believers believe this is a setback, the WNBA will continue to reconstruct and build upon its solid foundation and LaToya Thomas now gets her playing time back, only this time in a Sparks’ jersey.

Chamique Holdsclaw, you will be truly missed but we carry on. Good luck my diva in the next phase of your life. We will see each other soon. I’m sure of it.