Courtney Williams: Not here anymore because she didn't want to be
Mohegan — Courtney Williams opted for the old "disrespect" narrative — amusing, if not disingenuous — to portray her departure from the Connecticut Sun.
Williams took her musings to Instagram, that hallowed portal of principle, where her words were fully substantiated by her own opinions. And then supported by all her groupies.
Sayeth young Ms. Williams:
"This process was definitely not an easy one for me, and it truly showed me that it's all about business, and that loyalty and emotion has no place in these type of negotiations. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hurt throughout this process. ... Don't get caught up in all the rumors that you may hear about why I left. I never intended nor wanted to leave CT and I hope the Connecticut fans and my teammates really understand that. The word loyalty is thrown around so loosely these days, and maybe I was raised differently, but genuine loyalty is shown through the good or the bad. At the bare minimum I could have gotten a 'thank you' like every other player that decided not to rejoin the team."
On the next episode of Dr. Phil: The perils of youth mixed with entitlement, all on social media.
So here's the deal: The Sun's "thank you" came in the form of a max contract offer. No, it didn't begin that way. But as negotiations progressed, the Sun offered Williams max money. This is called "salary negotiation." You know. Real world stuff. It comes with being an adult.
Maximum money on a team that came within an eyelash of the championship — all while signing a jewel of a free agent in DeWanna Bonner, theoretically making the team even better.
Hmmm. Why would one want to leave such a situation?
I've spent the last day or two talking to people who know Williams. Their refrains have been mysteriously consistent about her departure: We've known about this for a while, they said, like before free agency negotiations even began. Hence, Williams' Instagram bluster aside, she wanted out of here all along.
I asked Sun officials, given that Williams would be a commodity on the trade market, why it had to be Atlanta, not the most talented team in the league. Answer: Williams didn't want to go anywhere else. It's "home" for her. Which, again, underscores the idea that she had a specific target in mind for the summer of 2020. It wasn't Connecticut.
The "disrespect" theme is about maintaining image. I doubt her groupies will change their minds. But I believe it's important for the people who pay the money to watch the Sun play — honestly, the most loyal fans in the WNBA — to know the truth.
The franchise just dispelled the notion that free agents don't want to come here. They got a two-time WNBA Champion, three-time all-star and three-time Sixth Woman of the Year in Bonner, illustrating that if you pay people and give them a chance to win, they'll come here like everywhere else. Provided, that is, winning is important to them.
Courtney Williams' actions show she's more interested in Courtney Williams than anything else.
In many ways, Williams espouses the same ideals of many other young athletes now. It's the James Harden-ization of sports: It's all about you. Forty shots per game, 30 points per game, crowd adulation and no possibility of a championship because it's all about one player. Doesn't matter to them, though, because the checks don't bounce and there's always Instagram to craft your message.
It makes no sense to many of us older sports people, who honestly don't care about salaries, playing time or number of shots. Just that our team has one more point at the end of the game.
The Sun's addition of Bonner gave Courtney Williams a significantly better chance to win a championship than Atlanta. She could have max money, too. Ah, but would Bonner's presence mean fewer shots? Fewer points per game? Can't have that.
So Courtney Williams left.
Because she wanted to.
Know what? Free country. Enjoy Atlanta, kid. You were fun to watch here. But in the end, you weren't about the Connecticut Sun, your teammates or your fans. You were about Courtney Williams.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro