Tina Charles is one of the WNBA’s best players to ever jersey up. If you’re looking for reasons why, it’s most-evident by the former UCONN player being named to the league’s W25. Charles also easily makes our list of the greatest WNBA players of all-time.
Prior to the season, the former MVP signed a one-year deal with the Phoenix Mercury; joining a stacked roster that includes the legendary Diana Taurasi, the league’s most-dominant interior player in Brittney Griner, the electric Skylar Diggins-Smith, and up-and-coming Diamond DeShields. Charles wasn’t just joining an all-star studded roster, but this was a Phoenix team that made (and lost) last season’s 2021 WNBA Finals.
With all that in mind, WNBA analysts, sportsbooks and some of the best casino bonuses available for Canadians had the Phoenix Mercury as one of the league’s handful of serious championship contenders. Things haven’t turned out as expected.
Charles joined a team with strong expectations to compete for a championship again this season and that hasn’t happened this season for a lot of different reasons. Some will point out that Mercury’s coach last season Sandy Brondello didn’t have her contract renewed. Anecdotally there seems to always be some tension between Taurasi and Diggins-Smith and that came to a head early into the season.
Integrating both DeShields and Charles into an already successful situation has proven to be more difficult than expected, but the biggest problem is the not having Griner, who has been unlawfully detained in Russia and hasn’t suited up. Outside of the political frustrations that surround Griner’s situation, the Mercury is very much missing her interior presence on both sides of the court. Whatever you think the reason for Phoenix’s woes, success has eluded the Mercury and Charles wasn’t happy.
Why Did Tina Charles Leave The Phoenix Mercury?
With an MVP to her name, the 8x WNBA all-star, 9x All-WNBA, and 2x scoring champion with several nods on the league’s defensive team, has one accomplishment missing, There’s a glaring hole in the 33 year old Charles resume and that’s winning an WNBA championship. Charles desperately wants to add an WNBA championship to her resume.
After 18 games into the 2022 season, the Mercury were the third worst team in the twelve-team league; posting a 6-12 record. In her last game, Charles scored 26 points and grabbed 5 rebounds, but the Mercury still lost to the Minnesota Lynx – the team with the worst record in the league.
That apparently was the last straw for Charles. A day after the loss, news came out that Charles and the Mercury have agreed to weirdly-worded “contract divorce.”
“After discussions with Tina and her agent, it was best for both parties to go our separate ways at this time,” Mercury general manager Jim Pitman said. “Due to circumstances both in and out of our control, our season has not gone according to our plan, and we will continue to pursue all avenues for improvement.”
There’s been rumors that Charles has been unhappy all season — which isn’t a surprise. No breakup happens when it happens; there’s always to build up to decisions like this. Especially ones that are in the public eye. ESPN reported that during the season, Charles would often make comments that she wanted out of her contract whether that was a trade or being waived. If that’s true, that sounds like Charles has been unhappy for some time and contributing to a really toxic environment.
The Mercury won their next game against the Dallas Wings. Diggins-Smith let out a scream at the end of the game that had a little more oomph. Sophie Cunningham could be heard screaming “F**k Tina Charles!” as she was laughing with a handful of other Mercury players after the win.
Sophie Cunningham is the Phoenix Mercury player who screamed “Fuck Tina Charles!” following the game against Dallas Wings. You can see hear it and see me next to it. #4theValley #AllForTexas #WNBATwitter pic.twitter.com/vzi9EBn117
— Landon Thomas (@sixfivelando) June 26, 2022
We’re not sure whether the Mercury players got along, but if Cunningham is so comfortable yelling that — sounds like there’s no love lost between some contingent of the Mercury and Charles. Rightfully so as it looks as if Charles has given up on the team. So is Tina chasing a championship? She hasn’t come out and said it outright, but a couple days after news broke that she was leaving the Mercury, it was reported that Charles would be joining Breanna Stewart, Jewell Lloyd, Sue Bird and the fourth-seeded Seattle Storm. You be the judge.