Sales to Take One Year Hiatus from WNBA
“This has not been an easy decision,” Sales, 31, said in a statement Tuesday. “I’ve been going back and forth with it because I’ve always been able to bounce back. But after playing a light schedule overseas this off-season, I realized that now is the time for me to get healthy. I am not calling this a “retirement” because I have every intention to get healthy and resume my basketball career.”
Until the last two WNBA seasons, Sales had been one of the most durable players in league history, putting together the second longest streak of consecutive games played (248) from 1999 through 2006. That streak ended when Sales was forced to sit out 12 games – beginning July 8, 2006 – with a sore Achilles tendon. Sales missed eight more games last year because of both a concussion and a sore ankle.
“I know this has been a very difficult decision for Nykesha, and that she has agonized over it for quite some time,” Sun coach Mike Thibault said. “She has been one of the cornerstones of this franchise since the day we arrived here, and she certainly has been one of the top players in the history of the WNBA. Her progress and continual growth as a player and leader was one of the main reasons for our success and it helped us advance to two WNBA Finals appearances. However, I understand and respect her desire to make taking care of her health and injuries a priority. I hope that this time off from the game will allow her to re-vitalize and re-energize herself for the future.”
A former UConn star from Bloomfield, Sales is one of the most accomplished players in WNBA history. She was just the second player to amass 3,000 career points, 500 assists and 400 steals in a career, and is 45 points away from becoming the seventh player in league history to reach 4,000 career points. Among WNBA career leaders, Sales is eighth all-time in total points (3,955) and third all-time in steals (490).
The last remaining member of the Orlando Miracle team that relocated to Connecticut prior to the start of the 2003 season, Sales is currently finishing up her FIBA Euroleague commitment. She will participate in the Euroleague Women All Star game in Moscow on March 13th.
"Our fans will certainly miss seeing Kesh on the floor, but I think anyone who has had recurring ailments understands the need to take a step back, fix yourself, then move forward,” Connecticut Sun General Manager Chris Sienko said Tuesday. “It was a difficult decision, but a wise one.”
Since the end of the 2007 WNBA season, I have given a lot of thought to my WNBA plans going forward. After serious consideration and much discussion with my family and agent, I have made the very difficult decision that I will not be returning to play for the upcoming WNBA season.
Over the past couple years with the Connecticut Sun, I have had to continually battle nagging injuries, which I have done so willingly because of my love for the game. I came into the league in 1999 and have played for nine consecutive seasons including overseas play over the past several years, which eventually took its toll because there is no time for rest.
This has not been an easy decision. I've been going back and forth with it because I've always been able to bounce back. But after playing a light schedule overseas this off-season, I realized that now is the time for me to get healthy. I am not calling this a “retirement” because I have every intention to get healthy and resume my basketball career.
I want to thank the Connecticut Sun, and the fans, for their unwavering loyalty and support.