by Stephen Litel / @stephenlitel
(courtesy of SlamOnline.com)
One of the oddest stories leading up to the WNBA season was Chamique Holdsclaw’s request for a trade from the Atlanta Dream. After a fine season in the summer of 2009, the Dream were looking forward to taking the next step in 2010. As Holdsclaw sat at home, her now former teammates in Atlanta moved on without her and are the only remaining undefeated team in the WNBA. Yet, Holdsclaw arrives in San Antonio with big hopes for what the team can accomplish.
In the first part of Holdsclaw’s one-on-one with Stephen Litel, she discusses the Atlanta situation and her struggles with depression.
Stephen Litel: Of course, there’s a lot of discussion out there about what happened in Atlanta and you’ve stated you choose not to get into specifics, but this was a personal issue and not a basketball related issue?
Chamique Holdsclaw: “It wasn’t anything basketball related. It wasn’t about X’s and O’s or players and what we were going to do. It was a personal thing, something the coach and I had talked about before I came to Atlanta and it just didn’t work out like that. I’m a person of principle. If you tell me something, I expect for you to follow through. When you don’t and I talk to you about it, don’t try to make me look bad. Maybe not make me look bad, but don’t make it seem like I don’t know what I’m talking about when I know what you told me from day one. That was the main issue was principle.”
“I could have gone back and played in Atlanta, but I’m a person and my word is my bond. If I tell somebody something, they know I’m going to try my best to follow through. It’s something that I knew could have some backlash because when you stand up for something you believe in, when it’s something tough like this situation was for me, you’re going to suffer in the media. I knew it was going to be hard, but it was something that I was willing to stand up for because I believed in it.”
SL: Coach Meadors stated in an interview that she had “no idea” why you requested the trade…
CH: “I don’t read press. I don’t really read the paper unless someone on the team gives it to me because you’re in it. I don’t go online and I don’t read blogs and things of that sort, but I can’t help it that my friends do. I tell all my friends and the people I’m really close with, “I don’t want to hear it and I don’t care what somebody says about me.” I don’t care because I live it. I know what the real deal was, you know?”
“What happened was a good friend called me and she was like, ‘Look, I know you don’t read articles and all that type of stuff, but I found it quite disturbing.’ I asked her, ‘What do you find disturbing?’ She said, ‘What your coach said. That she didn’t know.’ I just said, ‘Don’t go into a whole bunch of detail, but she didn’t know what? What are you talking about?’ She said, ‘Well, she didn’t know what you were upset about. I said, ‘Oh, god. Really? Come on, we’re two adults and we talked about it.’
“Now, she’s trying to make it seem like it’s something from my past. When you say you don’t know why, the first thing people are going to think is, ‘Oh, she’s going through depression or she’s going through something off the court.’ That’s the first thing I told my agent and felt we should say something back, but he was like, “No, no, no. You know what really happened. Just sit back, be patient and be quiet until you get what you want.’ That was to get out of Atlanta.”
“It really bothered me that she tried to say that she didn’t know what happened, but on the flip-side of it when you’re a GM like she is, I probably would have said the same thing. At the moment, I was upset because I was like, ‘Yo, just be honest.’ When I thought about it business-wise, I probably would’ve said the same thing.”
SL: So, you’re saying she absolutely knew why and it’s 100% clear to her as to why you requested the trade?
CH: “Yes, definitely. We had a phone conversation, I expressed my feelings and she expressed hers. We talked and I said, ‘Where do we go from here?’ I felt a little disappointed that everything didn’t work out and she said, ‘Well, we don’t want to trade you.’”
“On my side of things, I just feel like I’ve been through too much. I’ve been through too much BS as far as dealing with my own personal stuff. Last year, I had a tremendous experience with a great group of women. I love that team and I gave 110%. There’s nobody in Atlanta Dream basketball who could ever question my character because I know what I gave to that team. Ask Marynell and the players and they’ll tell you the same. I knew that I, personally, after what went down between us, I couldn’t go in every day and give that 110% because I had no faith in her. We talked about something, she didn’t follow through with it, so I felt like I can’t trust her. It was a trust issue. I can’t be a leader for you when I can’t follow your word 110%. Last year, I could believe everything, but when someone tries to put something over your head, you just look at things a little bit differently. I knew I couldn’t be that same person in my heart. I couldn’t be that same person.”
“You know, when I’ve gone through the BS that I’ve gone through and I can play this game on a competitive level for a few more years, I want to enjoy it, man. It’s been a long time since I’ve really enjoyed the game of basketball. Last year, after taking those two seasons off, I enjoyed it, even with the injury, man. I was having so much fun, so that’s the feeling I want to have, win or lose. Last year wasn’t perfect, but it was something that was just great, just being back involved in a high level of basketball and just having fun. I just knew for me, personally, I just couldn’t be in a situation where I felt like when I go to work every day that I wasn’t going to be happy.”