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Friday, July 19, 2019

Clay Kallam’s Scorecard: A Bad News Day for the WNBA

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Photo Caption: It was a bad news day for the WNBA as Chamique Holdsclaw decided to jump ship from the Atlanta Dream and Cheryl Ford’s bad knees led to her waiver by the Tulsa Shock.

Photo Credit: Courtesy NBAE/Getty Images Scott Cunningham

By Clay Kallam

A bad day for the WNBA, starting with …

Chamique Holdsclaw: The first shining star of the women’s game could have been something special, could have been the one who led the league to glory – but in the end, it was just asking too much.

Holdsclaw, sadly, just wasn’t stable enough or healthy enough to bear the burdens thrust upon her, and her latest trade request (from Atlanta, this time) is just the latest in a long line of strange swerves and odd turns in her once-so-bright career. Remember, she was on the cover of SLAM magazine; remember, she won national titles at Christ the King and Tennessee; remember, she could play the game as well as any woman alive in the late ‘90s.

Maybe it wasn’t fair to put so much on Holdsclaw’s shoulders, but she never backed away from the money or the fame, and in return, the game needed her. to rise to the occasion. Sadly, she couldn’t live up to the hype, and in fact didn’t even come close. Demanding trades, “retiring” in midseason, supposedly demanding that certain players must be on the roster with her, all this coupled with her admitted struggles with her mental health, and her injuries, turned her into something much less than the 17.3 point-per-game and 7.9 rebound-per-game player she been over the course of her career.

From one perspective, those numbers are impressive, dazzling even, given Holdsclaw’s struggles, but from another they are simply depressing. Imagine what could have been, imagine what might have happened, imagine a strong and mentally stable Holdsclaw staying in L.A. to play with Lisa Leslie.

In some ways, it seems unfair to blame Holdsclaw, a young woman born with a talent she didn’t seem to want all that much, and burdened with depression. None of that was her fault – but still, it seems she could have handled it all so much better, and it’s hard not to be deeply disappointed over what might have been.

Now she wants to go somewhere else than Atlanta, the team she wanted to play for last time we went through this. Even though she will be 33 in August, and her skills aren’t what they were, she’s still a very good player who can help any team in the WNBA on the court. Off the court, though, things aren’t so sunny, and in fact the clouds over Chamique Holdsclaw may mean this is the end of her WNBA career.

Cheryl Ford: Ford is just a few weeks away from her 29th birthday, and should be in the prime of her professional career – but her bad knees may mean it’s all over for this 6-3 prototypical power forward. In her two best seasons, she averaged a double-double, and Karl Malone’s daughter was a beast in the paint, using her strength and aggression to dominate inside.

There is hope that Ford may someday return, but she has been waived by the Tulsa Shock, and that franchise’s struggles are as big a part of this bad news as Ford’s inability to play.

The Shock could have arrived in the WNBA’s newest city as a potential power, ready to impress local fans and sponsors with a lineup featuring Ford, Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan. But Ford is now hurt, and Smith and Nolan refused to play in Tulsa this year. Smith wound up in Washington, and Nolan is skipping the WNBA season entirely, supposedly to keep the Russian citizenship that allows her to make more money in Europe, where the big bucks are.

Hype and the media: Burned by Holdsclaw, who was trumpeted as the next great women’s player, the media dug for other stories, prominent among them Ford, who was Malone’s estranged daughter. Toss in Marion Jones, who gets more publicity than people like Diana Taurasi, who is not only media-friendly but a charismatic Olympian and one of the best players in the world, and the WNBA looks more like a promotional circus than a legitimate sports league, with its story lines and marketing never focusing on the product on the floor.

Of course, this still could be a great summer for the WNBA, with Cappie Pondexter capable of rejuvenating the league’s most important franchise, and the possible announcement of expansion/relocation into the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011. And hopefully, the contracted league will feature plenty of points, lots of excitement, few injuries, and exciting playoffs.

And after all, it should be easy to have better news than today’s.



Originally published Wed, May 12, 2010

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
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Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.