Atlanta Dream All-Star Courtney Williams. Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Courtney Williams has played her final game for the Atlanta Dream.
The first-time WNBA All-Star was a bright spot on the court for the struggling franchise. Williams started every game for the Dream and led the team in points, rebounds, and assists throughout the 2021 season.
But her off-court antics have cast a shadow over her in-game achievements, leaving the unrestricted free agent without the option to return to Atlanta next year. The franchise informed both Williams and teammate Crystal Bradford that they would not be re-signed to the Dream’s roster “under any circumstances,” The Next’s Howard Megdal reported Tuesday night.
Williams (left) high fives Crystal Bradford. Katharine Lotze/Getty Images
Williams and Bradford were among a trio of players who engaged in a brawl outside of a dayclub in late May, shortly after the 2021 season began. Kalani Brown, a 6-foot-7 center who was waived by Atlanta just days before the fight, was also part of the scrum.
Though the physical altercation took place some five months ago, footage of the scuffle arose and went viral earlier this week. The tape shows Williams and Bradford fist-fighting with a group of women while standing near a “Tenders & Bites” food truck, with the Dream’s lone 2021 All-Star seen throwing several punches in the nearly two-minute clip.
Bradford, who played 24 games with the Dream in 2021, also became entangled in the physical clash. But Brown appeared to be more interested in breaking up the skirmish than throwing punches herself.
A source close to the franchise told Insider that the altercation began when someone commented on Williams’ girlfriend. The outspoken 5-foot-8 guard then took matters into her own hands, though it remains unclear which party took the first swing, and her teammates came in as backup. Williams briefly posted a video of the fight to YouTube with her side of the story, but it was pulled down before Insider was able to view its contents.
Team leadership was aware of the situation well before the video of the fight surfaced. Not only was the melee a threat to the players’ physical well-being and thus to the potential success of the franchise, but their presence at a dayclub breached the league’s COVID-19 protocols.
“The behavior in the video is unacceptable and does not align with our values as an organization,” the Dream said in a statement to Insider on Monday. “We are taking this matter very seriously and working with the league to gather more information and determine next steps.”
Williams led the Atlanta Dream in points, rebounds, and assists throughout the 2021 season. AP Photo/John Bazemore
One day later, the franchise told Williams and Bradford that they would not be welcomed back to the team. The Fam Sports Agency CEO Marcus Crenshaw – who represents both players – confirmed as much during an Instagram Live interview with Girls Talk Sports TV’s Khristina Williams Tuesday night.
Crenshaw questioned why the team only took action after the video became accessible to the public, rather than when franchise leadership learned about the fight five months earlier.
“I spoke to Court [Williams],” Crenshaw said. “She knows like, damn bro, the team didn’t even do anything, so I didn’t even think – it was a brawl, we got out of it, nothing happened. If the team didn’t do anything, she was like, ‘Aw man, I didn’t think this YouTube video was gonna do anything.'”
“She didn’t maliciously put that out there,” he added.
On Monday, a source told Insider that the team had handled the situation internally, though the nature of that resolution has not yet been made public. Williams started in each of the Dream’s 32 games on the season, so it does not appear that the players faced repercussions that bled into gameday – until now.
It remains unclear whether other WNBA franchises will explore signing Williams or Bradford this offseason. In addition to the current situation working against her, Williams previously had a physical altercation with a former teammate during her time with the Connecticut Sun.
Read the original article on Insider