Atlanta Dream co-owner Renee Montgomery said the team didn’t know the extent of the May altercation involving multiple Dream players, while speaking during the halftime show of ESPN’s broadcast of the Sun-Sky semifinal game.
The Dream and the WNBA are both looking into the situation after a video surfaced Sunday showing Courtney Williams and Crystal Bradford getting into a fight outside of an Atlanta club.
“We saw a clip in May that was 10 to 15 seconds long, with no context,” said Montgomery, who is working as a studio analyst for ESPN during the WNBA playoffs. “And Coach [Mike] Petersen, he talked to the players involved, and they told us that, they assured us that it was in self-defense. So we wanted to believe our players. And so we chose to believe our players, and ultimately didn’t have any disciplinary actions.”
Neither Williams nor Bradford was disciplined at the time. The players’ agent, Marcus Crenshaw, told Girls Talk Sports TV earlier this week that the Dream have informed him they do not intend to re-sign either player.
“We only understood the magnitude of the situation when we saw that the fuller clip was posted [over the weekend],” Montgomery continued. “And again, this doesn’t feel good for anyone. No one wants to feel this way. But we always want to lean in to believe in our players and believe in women, to even take it a step further.”
Williams appeared to make light of the incident in a YouTube video recorded with her girlfriend on Sunday night. The guard has since deleted the video and apologized on Twitter.
“This is a tough situation for everyone involved. No one feels good or happy about what transpired,” said Montgomery. “And I know a lot of people want information, but right now, the league is involved. We’re dealing with a process that’s going to involve the league and the WNBPA. So we have to respect that.”
The Dream have been embroiled in controversy over the past couple of days. In addition to the fight video, second-year guard Chennedy Carter has been posting cryptic tweets since the end of the season, alluding to her frustration with the team. Carter was suspended in July following a reported altercation in the locker room during a game.
The team has also dealt with significant turnover in the past year. Atlanta fired president and general manager Chris Sienko in April. Just before the season started, head coach Nicki Collen announced she was leaving to take over the Baylor women’s basketball program. And in July, interim coach Mike Petersen stepped down for health reasons. Darius Taylor served as interim coach for the remainder of the season.
Montgomery — in her first year as part of the ownership group — says the Dream still have work to do, but the front office will continue to back its players.
“We want to build a foundation of accountability, we want to build a foundation of integrity,” she said. “But we also still want to continue to believe our players. So I don’t want this one instance to be, ‘Oh, we’re not going to believe anymore.’ We have to believe players. We have to believe women. And we’re going to continue to do that.”