SECAUCUS, N.J., June 12, 2007 -- Don, Dave and Gus, my friends since before I learned how to tie my shoes, all went to college at the University of Tennessee. I chose to stay in New Jersey and attend Fairleigh Dickinson (can I get a do over?).
Whenever we chatted on the phone or saw each other over the holidays, I would talk about classes or parties, but the topic of conversation from them always centered around some type of UT sporting event (maybe if I went to a bigger school I would have understood why).
With all of the success of the program, you can imagine how many times the subject of the day was the UT women's basketball squad. And in particular, All-American Chamique Holdsclaw.
And that is how I got my honorary membership card into the Holdsclaw Fan Club. In truth, my boys left me no choice.
After hearing that the forward elected to retire from the WNBA on Monday, it got me to thinking about everything she accomplished on the court.
Counting her college career, it could be argued that she was one of the top five female basketball players of all time. I'm not saying she is, I'm simply saying a case could be made.
Check out her resume:
She led the Lady Vols to three consecutive NCAA Championships (1996, 1997 and 1998) and was Tennessee's all-time leading scorer and rebounder 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
She was the No. 1 pick of the 1999 Draft and went on to win Rookie of the Year
She was an honorable mention selection to the All-Decade team
She was a member of the 2000 USA Olympic team that won gold
She led the WNBA in scoring once and in rebounding twice and was a six-time All-Star
As her play has shown this season, at the age of 29 she is just reaching her peak. She is averaging 15.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and three assists per game for the Sparks (3-2).
"This was not an easy decision,” said Holdsclaw, who joined the Sparks in a trade from the Mystics in 2005. “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.”
This is the second time in her WNBA career that she has left a team for undisclosed personal reasons. In 2004 while playing for the Mystics, Holdsclaw, who later revealed she was suffering from depression, left the team 23 games into the season.
Although she hasn't won a WNBA championship, Holdsclaw, who has 3,975 points and 1,862 rebounds in her career, has little left to prove. She should take all of the time she wants to deal with her private matters and then re-evaulate if her heart is still into the game.
And if it's not, thanks for the memories.
Now here are the player rankings for the season through June 11.
Last Week's Rank - 1
Hey, nobody is perfect, right? Despite 21 points and nine assists from Catchings, the Fever lost their first game of the season to the Liberty last Tuesday. She responded by leading Indiana to three straight wins.
Last Week's Rank - 3
Will the Shock go an unthinkable 34-0 this season? Probably not. Still, it's a safe bet that Nolan and Co. will challenge the WNBA record for victories in a season of 28 by the Sparks in 2000 and 2001.
Last Week's Rank - 7
Slowly but surely, Ford is climbing up the charts. The inside muscle has helped the Shock get off to a 6-0 start, which is their best ever. Counting the WNBA Finals, Detroit has won its last eight.
Last week, Lauren Hill of Mount St. Joseph University courageously took the floor for her first college game, refusing to let an inoperable brain tumor keep her from achieving her dream – and WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings were on hand to lend their support.