- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 6, 2001

The Washington Mystics dumped the Nikki McCray problem on the Indiana Fever yesterday.

The Mystics traded McCray to the Fever for veteran forward Angie Braziel and two draft picks. Thus, the Mystics were able to receive the fourth overall pick in April's WNBA Draft.

In addition to trading the poor-shooting McCray, the Mystics shipped a second-round pick (17th overall) and a fourth-rounder (49th) to the Fever for the No. 4 selection and a third-round pick (36th) in what is considered a weak draft.

"It wasn't a winning formula," Mystics general manager Melissa McFerrin said. "[McCray] felt she wasn't achieving all that she could. It appeared not to be working, and we had to shuffle the deck to be better."

McCray was an integral part of a building process that went dreadfully wrong for the Mystics.

Hyped as a superstar and voted a three-time WNBA All-Star, McCray was never able to find her role on the Mystics. The temperamental shooting guard leaves as a career 29 percent 3-point shooter (141 of 472) and never fit in the Mystics halfcourt sets.

McCray was the first allocated player in team history when the league assigned her to the then-expansion Mystics on Jan. 27, 1998, along with Brazilian center Alessandra Santos de Oliveira. The 6-foot-5 Santos de Oliveira lasted all of a season and a half before the Mystics shipped the ineffective center to the Houston Comets for center Nyree Roberts, who was waived before the 2000 season.

From the very beginning, McCray was touted as the Mystics' franchise player even though the team finished 3-27 the worst record in the history of professional basketball based on winning percentage in her first season.

Despite the Mystics' futility over the next three seasons, the league refused to allow the team to trade McCray. The WNBA considers McCray a league ambassador; her likeness and voice appears on everything WNBA. The league used McCray as a drawing card to supposedly placate the fans in one of the league's top markets.

However, after four straight losing seasons, Mystics fans are getting restless for a winner, and the league finally conceded McCray's skills won't help deliver the nation's capital a winning team.

When the Mystics drafted forward Chamique Holdsclaw out of Tennessee with the first overall pick in 1999, McCray was unwilling to relinquish her on-court control of the Mystics.

It was apparent that the Mystics were Holdsclaw's team, but McCray refused to accept that idea. The two ex-Tennessee stars clashed often and never complemented each other on the floor. It came to a head last summer when McCray publicly complained that she did not know her role on the team even though her job description said shooting guard. The Mystics finished 10-22 their fourth straight losing season.

McCray posted career-lows in points (11 per game), field goal percentage (41.0), free throw percentage (71.1), assists (47), 3-point percentage (23.2), and tied her career low with 56 rebounds.

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