February 8, 2021
Crystal Langhorne retires, joins Seattle’s front office
The 13-year WNBA veteran transitions; roster questions answered
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Among the Seattle Storm’s offseason questions was what Crystal Langhorne’s future with the team was. We learned on Monday morning that Langhorne is retiring after 13 WNBA seasons, including her final seven with Seattle. However, Langhorne will remain with the team by joining the front office as their inaugural Director of Community Engagement.
In her new role, Langhorne will collaborate with ownership, leadership, players, and community partners to promote the Storm’s engagement in supporting meaningful change in the community. This role was created last year to combat racism and promote diversion, equity, and inclusion. Langhorne was at the forefront of the team’s social justice efforts last season, taking part in their Force4Change initiative.
“Crystal made vital contributions as a member of the Storm both on-court and off-court, efforts that led to two WNBA Championships. We could not be more thrilled to welcome her as she joins our front office team in a brand new role, which will build on her leadership experience and talents as we enter the second year of focused efforts to fight racism in this country,” said Alisha Valavanis, Storm CEO and General Manager. “It is exciting to take this first step to combine our commitment to our Force4Change work with our commitment to forward our players’ post-on-court careers with Crystal at the helm of this effort.”
“I am thrilled to be working with the Storm in this new role,” Langhorne said. “I truly believe in the Force4Change initiative and I’m ready to help create meaningful change. Our organization has shown its dedication to fighting racism and I’m honored to be able to continue that fight.”
Langhorne appeared in just 13 games for the Storm last season but started up to the 2018 season. At her peak, Langhorne was among the most efficient players in the league and was a two-time all-star with the Mystics. There is no question Langhorne had a long, successful career and will continue to make an impact off the court with the Storm.
What Langhorne’s retirement means on the court
For the Storm, Langhorne’s $105,000 salary for next season comes off the books. Langhorne’s salary would be irrelevant if she had been a significant contributor but she played just 107 minutes with no known injuries last season. The Storm needed more production than that given their financial restraints.
Would Langhorne have played more if they asked? Most likely. Yet, Langhorne had fallen out of the bench rotation behind rookie Ezi Magbegor and Mercedes Russell. Morgan Tuck experienced a similar squeeze in 2020, too.
It seems more likely that the Storm would put this money into Natasha Howard’s new contract, if or when that happens. Seattle does not have a lot of room to add players in free agency and still hope to re-sign Howard and Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd, and Jordin Canada next winter.
Langhorne’s next chapter
Considering Langhorne is 34 years old, had her role decline for three-straight seasons, and the opportunity to go out a champion, her retirement is unsurprising. Langhorne will now go on to work that is even more important than basketball.
The lack of any fanfare in Langhorne leaving is a part of the lack of W viewership. Lang was an undersized power forward who lacked range but was able to thrive in the W for at least a decade before her role was to be that of a veteran with leadership as a part of the bench rotation.
Her efficiency throughout her career as well as her attitude are intangibles that should be lauded.