February 9, 2021 

Renee Montgomery retires from the WNBA

After 11 seasons, Montgomery announced her retirement Tuesday

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After 11 WNBA seasons spent with four different teams, two WNBA Championships, one All-Star appearance, and one Sixth Woman of the Year award, Renee Montgomery announced her retirement from the WNBA on Tuesday afternoon.

True to form, Montgomery made the announcement on her podcast, Remotely Renee, one of the countless ventures she’s been involved with since opting out of the 2020 WNBA season last June. At the time, Montgomery planned to return to the court, but her feelings clearly changed as time went on over the past nine months.

“When I opted out in June, I really did not expect that to be my last game, my last anything, but I wanted to add to the momentum,” Montgomery said. “… I just wanted to add to the momentum, and it’s rolling right now.”

Through audible emotion — and frustration when she couldn’t control her emotions as much as she wanted — Montgomery detailed her journey from just wanting a Division I scholarship, to her time at UConn, to her success in the WNBA and thanked everyone who had supported her along the way.

“Dear basketball, I shouldn’t be crying over you because we’re still going to be together, but let’s just keep this momentum going,” Montgomery said. “I’m thankful for my 11 years. … I did not expect it to be that hard (to say), but I love basketball so I kind of did expect it.”

The Minnesota Lynx drafted Montgomery with the No. 4 overall pick in 2009, and a year later Montgomery was a part of the trade that sent Lindsay Whalen to Minnesota while she headed out to Connecticut. Montgomery returned to the Lynx in 2015, where she won titles in both 2015 and 2017 before coming to Atlanta as a free agent in February 2018. As Dream coach Nicki Collen described it on Twitter, Montgomery was the first player to agree to come to Atlanta with Collen at the helm.

In Montgomery’s first season with the Dream, they made it to the semifinals before losing in the fifth game of the best-of-five series to the Mystics. The 2019 season, which no one had any inkling at the time would be Montgomery’s last, was less successful overall and Montgomery herself struggled, but Montgomery’s legacy as a player and a person will far outstrip one mediocre season.

When Montgomery opted out of the WNBA season in June to focus on social justice work, there was a feeling that she was going to do something special. Within days, she was involved with LeBron James and his More Than A Vote campaign, she was signed on to host TMZ Sports on FS1 every night and the list kept growing from there. While appearing on media networks across the world to explain her decision and describe what she planned to do, Montgomery brought awareness to the cause and shone a light on the WNBA as a whole.

More recently, Montgomery became the first female owner in the new Fan Controlled Football league as a member of the Beasts’ ownership group with Marshawn Lynch. Just when you think she’ll stand pat for a while with everything she’s already doing, Montgomery finds something new to put her energy into.

“I’m very good about my time, and I have a great team around me. … It’s exciting because I just am very intentional about my time,” Montgomery said in January when asked how she finds time to have so many balls in the air. “I just make time for (things). I prioritize it. I don’t really have a social life, but due to the pandemic, I don’t think anyone does, so right now I’m just locked in.”

Collen often referred to Montgomery as the kind of player who was all in, all the time, and was relentless in her preparation. It goes without saying that Montgomery has carried those same attributes into the past year since opting out of the season, and there’s no question she’ll remain the same in retirement.

Written by Bailey Johnson

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