This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2005, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sorry Nancy Lieberman, your pleas are going unheeded.

Several weeks ago the former WNBA coach-turned ESPN commentator made an on-air demand for Natalie Williams not to retire.

But Williams, the Salt Lake City resident who played for the WNBA's Utah Starzz and then the Indiana Fever, said there will be no reversal for her.

"My last game, I ran for 43 minutes out of 45, and I don't plan on running ever again, unless something big and scary is chasing me," Williams said. "I'm done."

Indiana's season came to an end last week with a 77-67 overtime loss to Connecticut in the Eastern Conference finals in which Williams had 17 points, 11 rebounds and no turnovers.

Nights like that are why commentators and her teammates don't want to see her clean out her locker for a final time, but Williams said her body protests too much from years of pounding for her to continue.

The 34-year-old, who grew up in Taylorsville, leaves women's basketball as the all-time leading rebounder in U.S. history with 2,869 and is second in points with 4,671. She is also the only player in league history to be an all-star in both the Eastern and Western conferences, and she won a gold medal as a member of the 2000 Olympic team.

The one prize that eluded her was a WNBA championship. She is keeping an eye on the finals, which continue today with the series between Sacramento and Connecticut tied 1-1. It's a guarantee one former Starzz player will get a ring, with Margo Dydek playing for Connecticut and Olympia Scott-Richardson playing for the Monarchs, but Williams is too satisfied with her final year to be jealous.

"This year was so much fun, we had each other's backs and fought hard," she said. "We went further in the playoffs than Connecticut has ever gone because we were just a scrappy team. It wouldn't have been as fulfilling for me if we hadn't had as much fun but won a championship."

Williams isn't totally turning her back on the game. She's coming home to pursue a new career in real estate and will again be an assistant coach for the Skyline High girls' basketball team.

Last year, Skyline reached the Class 5-A semifinals where the Eagles lost to eventual champion Layton. Many of the Eagles' plays were ones Williams borrowed from her Fever team.

"I love coaching at that level because they are such good learners, they are like sponges," Williams said. "Things that are second nature to me, they don't even know yet, and it's fun to share that knowledge."

Also a priority are her 5-year-old twins, Sydney and Turasi, who already are active in T-ball, dance and soccer.

"I'm ready for them to be center stage," Williams said. "And I'm still going to work out, but do the things I want to do, which is totally different than training for basketball, and I have a lot of projects I want to do at home. It was a great year, I can't think of a better place to end my career, and I don't have any regrets."

comments powered by Disqus