- The Washington Times - Friday, August 10, 2001

The road in front of MCI Center is called Fun Street. For Washington Mystics star Chamique Holdsclaw, however, it has been more of a highway to hell.

In three years with the Mystics, Holdsclaw has lost more games at the pro level than she did during all of her high school and college seasons.

Holdsclaw, who was named one of the 20 greatest women's college basketball players of all time at Tennessee, is frustrated and miserable with one of the WNBA's worst franchises.

Going into tonight's game at Detroit, the Mystics have compiled a 35-58 record with Holdsclaw. Frankly, she is tired of losing and tired of the front office doing nothing about it.

"I'm not always the happiest camper, but last year I made a commitment to this team," Holdsclaw said after Monday's loss to the Charlotte Sting. "… We're consistently not going out there and accomplishing anything… . [General manager Melissa McFerrin and coach Tom Maher] have to go out there and get some players and change things around because I'm tired of losing."

Holdsclaw's pent-up emotions reached the boiling point Monday when the Mystics were officially eliminated from the WNBA playoff chase by Charlotte. After the game Holdsclaw even said she did not know if she would play for the Mystics next season.

"OK, it's been three years, and we're not getting it done with this and not getting it done with that," Holdsclaw said. "This changes you. This is my job, which everybody gets to watch and criticize. At times you feel the pressure because it's like, golly, I want to be there, I want to experience what Charlotte experienced [Monday night] and come into a huddle at the end of a game after clinching a playoff spot and being excited.

"I waited the first couple of years before I decided to buy a place [in Alexandria] because I didn't know how it was going to be here in Washington. Hopefully, it works out."

During the offseason, Holdsclaw, who turned 24 yesterday, lost approximately 20 pounds to prove her commitment. Meanwhile, the Mystics stocked their roster with players who have proven to have little offensive skill.

In Wednesday's ugly 42-36 loss to the Miami Sol, Holdsclaw scored a team-high 18 points on 4-for-13 shooting. The rest of the team made six of 38 shots. Every game the 6-foot-2 Holdsclaw gets double- and triple-teamed because her teammates are not scoring threats.

"I don't think anybody is happy with our situation right now we're having a season [9-20] that we didn't expect," McFerrin said. "So what do you do? You re-evaluate at season's end."

Coming out of Tennessee, where she led the Lady Vols to three straight NCAA championships, Holdsclaw was selected by the Mystics with the top overall pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft.

Holdsclaw immediately signed a five-year, $2.5 million Nike contract, reportedly the largest shoe deal ever for a woman. She has a $250,000 WNBA personal services contract for league advertisements like "We Got Game" and a Mystics salary of $50,000 a year that reportedly expires at the end of this season.

Holdsclaw's hopes soared after the Mystics made the playoffs last season with a 14-18 record. But the team backed into the playoffs, losing six of its final nine games, and was swept in two games by the New York Liberty.

This season the team has been worse, although the three-time WNBA All-Star and 1999 Rookie of the Year is the league's fifth-best scorer (16.6 points) and fourth-best rebounder (8.7). She was the league's leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game and has posted nine double-doubles.

"I've gotten to the point where I just have to work hard in the offseason and perfect my game," Holdsclaw said. "I'm going to leave [personnel decisions] to the front office. I'm here, I just need to get better and better as a player, and hopefully they'll find a system to fit us. This is what we have. [The front office] has to go out there and make the right decisions. I don't pick who we draft, I don't pick what trades we do. It's not my job."

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