The animosity has subsided, but there’s still some confusion about what led to the swift and spectacular fallout between Storm forward Gabby Williams and Chicago Sky coach James Wade, which resulted in her being suspended and traded around this time last year. 

“That was something that was out of my control,” said Williams who felt blindsided when Wade, who is also the Sky’s general manager, placed her on the full season suspended list, which prevented her from playing in the WNBA in 2021 and wiped out her $70,040 salary. 

At the time, Wade said the short-handed Sky could only keep 11 players and Williams’ decision to play for the French national team in the Tokyo Olympics complicated Chicago’s roster situation.

“We needed our group of 11,” Wade told reporters in Chicago. “We didn’t want to put our players behind the eight ball because we only start the season with eight or nine when we didn’t have to.”

Williams won a bronze Olympic medal last August and two months later, Chicago captured its first WNBA title. 

On Wednesday, Williams faces her former team for the first time when the Storm (1-3) host the Sky (2-1) at Climate Pledge Arena. 


“Hell yeah, I’ve come to grips with all of it,” Williams said. “That’s never been a question if I was at peace with it. I was just mad that it took so long. And I was mad at the way it happened.  

“I was happy for the players. Those are some of my best friends on the team and I was happy for them when they won. I went and got myself a freaking Olympic medal for my country and I would take that over anything. And now I’ve ended up here. I’ve been at peace with that since the moment I got traded.”

Last year, Chicago sent Williams to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for rookie Stephanie Watts and the rights to Leonie Fiebich.

It was a surprising move that severed ties with Williams, who had been a productive backup forward while averaging 6.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 steals in 20.8 minutes during a three-year stint with the Sky.

In February, Seattle dealt forward Katie Lou Samuelson and the No. 9 pick in the 2020 draft for Williams. The Storm signed her to a one-year deal worth $144,000, which is a considerable investment, in hopes of bolstering its sagging defense that had declined since the free agency loss of Alysha Clark. 

“When my trade happened and I talked to the staff, the first thing they told me was ‘We need a defensive stopper.’” said Williams, an athletic 5-foot-11 forward. “I want to be that player. … It’s something I take pride in and I hope I can gain the trust from my teammates to be put in that position.” 


Coach Noelle Quinn has been generally pleased with Williams’s defensive performance notwithstanding a 24-point outing from Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi in Seattle’s 69-64 loss last Saturday. 

“Gabby helps us a lot with her activity,” Quinn said. “I remember, (Taurasi) had a tough shot on her and hit a three, but then Gabby came back the next possession and she got the offensive foul call. So, that tells me she’s not backing down.  

“And what can’t be overlooked is (Storm leading scorer) Jewell (Loyd) is able to be Jewell offensively when Gabby is on the floor.” 

However, the Storm, who have lost three straight games, are still adjusting to their quartet of newcomers, including reserves Briann January, Jantel Lavender and Reshanda Gray. 

“Obviously, it hasn’t been easy,” said Williams who is averaging 4.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists. “It’s been pretty tough. We’ve had some challenges that we didn’t expect in these games. It’s good for us to learn how to overcome these adversities now rather than later on in the season.” 

Notably, Seattle has been without WNBA All-Star forward Breanna Stewart and backup guard Epiphanny Prince the past two games due to health and safety protocols. And center Mercedes Russell has not played this season because of an undisclosed non-basketball injury. 


The absences have put a spotlight on the Storm’s offensive deficiencies, particularly Williams’s career-low 20.7% shooting. 

“I’ve been struggling offensively with my shot these past few games, but I know that’s something that is going to come,” Williams said. “I just have to work on my shot selection and getting in the rhythm of the team and not forcing some things.  

“I do feel like I’m more me even though my shots are not falling right now. I know shots is something that comes and goes.” 

On Monday, Quinn sat down with Williams and watched videos of her most recent season with her Hungarian team Sopron Basket when she averaged 13.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.4 steals and shot 38.8% from the field. 

Last month, Williams led Sopron to its first EuroLeague championship and claimed the tournament’s Final Four MVP award. 

“The stuff that she got in EuroLeague, she can get that here,” Quinn said. “But it’s just a matter of being confident and being comfortable in our system to know where to get those shots. 


“It’s just four games and she hasn’t been with us long enough yet to find that comfort. I’m encouraged by her. The intangibles she brings on the defensive end, those aren’t going to change and that’s always going to help us.”

After years of playing out of position at power forward and point guard, Quinn moved the versatile Williams to small forward in hopes of unlocking the potential of the former Connecticut Huskies star who was taken No. 4 overall in the 2018 WNBA draft. 

“I want Gabby to get back to who she is and who we know she can be and that’s playing with pace, playing in transition, getting to the rim and getting to the free-throw line,” Quinn said.

“The post ups will be available. She can get into the paint and she’s a great passer who can create for others. Just putting all of that together, plus her defense and she’s an incredible player.” 

Admittedly, Williams is extra motivated for Wednesday’s game for reasons that have nothing to do with the Sky.

“It’s a really important time for us to get on a winning streak more than anything else,” Williams said after putting in extra work after Monday’s practice with the Storm staff who ran her through various shooting drills.


As for her old feud with Wade, Williams said: “You learn who you can trust and then you just cut those people out of your life and you never have to deal with them again. But I have no anger towards anybody. 

“It’s over. I’ve moved on. I’m in a better place for me.” 


— Prince returned to practice Monday and will be available for Wednesday’s game. Stewart has not practiced with the Storm this week and it’s uncertain if she will be cleared to play or will miss her third straight game while in health and safety protocols.