Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Summitt speaks out on Chamique Holdsclaw retirement

"I am happy if she is."

That is what Lady Vol Head Coach Pat Summitt had to say about the sudden retirement of former player Chamique Holdsclaw.

The Los Angeles Sparks forward, a six-time All-Star in the WNBA and the league Rookie of the Year in 1999, shockingly announced her retirement on Monday. She gave no reason for her decision to retire.

"This was not an easy decision," Holdsclaw said. "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."

Holdsclaw called it quits five games into the 2007 season, despite currently leading the team at 15.8 points per game.

"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," Summitt said in a written statement. "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."

During her time with the Lady Vols, Holdsclaw led Tennessee to three straight NCAA championships, and is the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder (male or female) with 3,025 points and 1,295 rebounds. She was only the fifth women's basketball player in NCAA history to reach 3,000 points.

However, problems followed Holdsclaw at Washington in 2004. It was during that season she suffered from depression and left the team in July when the Mystics were in a playoff run. She later told the Washington Post she was under the care of a psychiatrist, and at the time considered retirement. Holdsclaw also took a two-week leave of absence from the Sparks in May 2006 for personal reasons.

"She has given a lot to this game, both at the collegiate and professional levels," Summitt said. "I think she's been good for the game and the game has been good for her."

Holdsclaw, 29, joined the Sparks in 2005, and before then played six seasons for the Washington Mystics. She averaged 17.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists during her WNBA career.

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