The Atlanta Dream didn’t know the extent of the May altercation that players Courtney Williams and Crystal Bradford were involved in, which is why neither was disciplined at the time, co-owner Renee Montgomery said Wednesday night.
Montgomery, a former WNBA player who is part of the ownership group that bought the Dream in February, addressed the situation on ESPN during halftime of the WNBA playoff game between the Connecticut Sun and Chicago Sky.
She said the league is investigating the circumstances.
“This is a tough situation for everyone involved. No one feels good or happy about what transpired,” Montgomery, who is working as an analyst for ESPN during the playoffs, said. “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 players’ agent, Marcus Crenshaw, said Tuesday that the Dream told him that neither player would return to the team next season. He said they are unrestricted free agents.
Speaking on Instagram Live with Girls Talk Sports TV, Crenshaw said he thinks the Dream are not bringing either player back because the organization is embarrassed that video of the fight came to light, as well as a YouTube video Williams posted talking about the altercation.Both circulated on social media Sunday.
“The team knew about the situation months ago,” he said Tuesday. “Right now, the team is trying to act like they have the morals, and [they’re] making [the players] some sort of scapegoats by saying they got put off the Dream because of the altercation.”
Montgomery said Wednesday that the team was aware of the video in May but only saw an abbreviated portion of it, and that then-Dream coach Mike Petersen did talk to the players at the time.
“We saw a clip in May that was 10 to 15 seconds long, with no context,” Montgomery said. “And Coach 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.
“But the thing is, we only understood the magnitude of the situation when we saw that the fuller clip was posted (over the weekend). 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.”
In portions of Williams’ YouTube video, she appeared to make light of the fight, but she also voiced concern about being outnumbered in it. She filmed the 39-minute video with her girlfriend, Glamazontay, a YouTube personality who has more than 870,000 subscribers.
The video was deleted Sunday night, and a day later, Williams posted an apology on Twitter.
“I would never want to represent myself or the organization in a negative way,” Williams tweeted. “I’m learning everyday so I ask for grace as I’m growing. Again I apologize to all attached, and I will be better moving forward.”
Courtney Williams led Atlanta in scoring (16.5 points per game), rebounds (6.8) and assists (4.0) this season. Bradford averaged 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds before a foot injury ended her season in August.
So what is next for the Dream?
“We want to build a foundation of accountability, we want to build a foundation of integrity,” Montgomery 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.”