- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

The Chamique Holdsclaw saga took a couple of turns yesterday when the Washington Mystics placed their star forward on the injured list and Holdsclaw, in turn, released a statement on the team’s Web site opening the door for a possible return.

By going on the injured list, Holdsclaw, who said she is dealing with a “personal medical issue,” will have to sit out the Mystics’ next three games. She won’t be eligible to be activated until Sept.9 against the Eastern Conference-leading New York Liberty at MCI Center.

In her statement, Holdsclaw said she would return to the Mystics but offered no timetable.

“The organization and my teammates understand that I value my privacy, so please do not be offended by the lack of information or further information regarding this situation,” Holdsclaw said. “I look forward to seeing you all again at the MCI Center when I return.”

Holdsclaw, the WNBA’s second-leading scorer (19 points) and the league’s third-leading rebounder (8.3 rebounds), left the Mystics in late July citing a “minor medical problem.” She did not rejoin the team Aug.10 when the Mystics resumed practicing during the Olympic break, and it appeared Holdsclaw might not come back.

After yesterday’s practice, the players seemed resigned to the possibility the 6-foot-2 Holdsclaw would not return. That all changed when Holdsclaw released her statement to the team’s fans.

“We’re very supportive of what she’s going through,” rookie guard Alana Beard said. “I think it’s very professional on her part [to release a statement].”

When asked whether the Mystics’ recent solid play before the month-long break may have influenced Holdsclaw’s decision to return, Beard said, “I don’t know of any motives for her return.”

The Mystics (12-14) went 2-1 without Holdsclaw, including an 82-62 drubbing of the Phoenix Mercury — Washington’s most lopsided victory of the season — in the final game before the break.

The specific reason for Holdsclaw’s absence remains unclear. In an August interview at her basketball camp at West Potomac High School in Fairfax County, Holdsclaw ruled out pregnancy, cancer and substance abuse as reasons she left the Mystics during a playoff race.

Yesterday’s statement shed no new light on her medical condition.

Meanwhile, the Mystics have soldiered on. By winning back-to-back games before the break, Washington gained newfound confidence it can win without one of the league’s best players.

Tonight will be a key test for the Mystics when they face Tamika Catchings and the Indiana Fever (12-15) at MCI Center in the WNBA’s return to action after the break.

It’s now an eight-game season for the Mystics, who are prepared to play without Holdsclaw, if necessary.

“I don’t know if you believe it, but I don’t think one player makes a team,” point guard Tamicha Jackson said. “This is our job. We get paid no matter who else is on the court with you. You get paid to do your job. ‘Mique has played several years, and she’s been injured maybe every year. [The Mystics] always had to play without her. So I don’t think her not being here is such a big difference for this organization. I’ve played against the Mystics without ‘Mique probably more times than I’ve played against her. So I don’t think ‘Mique being out is this big thing.”

Chamique’s statement

Full text of Chamique Holdsclaw’s statement, which ran on the Washington Mystics’ Web site:

“I’m taking this opportunity to reach out to the Mystics fans and everyone who has supported me throughout my career. I’d like to thank everyone for their wishes, support and prayers as I take some needed time to address a personal medical issue. I especially want to thank my teammates, coaches and the Mystics staff for their understanding and patience. The past several weeks have been difficult for me, and it has meant a lot for me to receive such incredible support.

“I’m worried that the fans will misinterpret my recent absence from the team coupled with media reports and think that I’m unhappy here in Washington or with my team. That is not the case.

“The organization and my teammates understand that I value my privacy, so please do not be offended by the lack of information or further information regarding this situation. I look forward to seeing you all again at the MCI Center when I return.”

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