Nicky Anosike responds to suspension

Nicky Anosike's suspension by the WNBA for the final three games of the season was a business decision after an MRI showed a torn lateral meniscus in her left knee, the former Lady Vol said Saturday in a phone interview.

Nicky Anosike, an All-Star center for the Minnesota Lynx and two-time national title winner at Tennessee, was suspended last week after she declined to travel with the team for the final three road games. She got the results of her MRI, which showed the tear to the same knee that she injured last summer. She also had been in pain for the past several weeks.

Anosike is in Knoxville this weekend and will have surgery on Monday at the University of Tennessee Medical Center and will begin rehab immediately this coming week with Jenny Moshak, the Lady Vols' chief of sports medicine, just as she did a year ago when she hurt the knee.

The former NCAA Woman of the Year made it through four years of Pat Summitt's rules without a single suspension – which can come from missing even one class or being one minute late for a meeting – and she believes that Tennessee and Minnesota Lynx fans who are aware of her high character realize she did nothing wrong.

"I think everyone has heard just part of the story, and thinks, ‘She was suspended because she refused to get on the road trip,' " said Anosike, who has played in the WNBA for three seasons. "But that's not the whole truth. The whole truth is that right after the San Antonio game, which was Sunday night, they gave me the results of the MRI that I took Saturday. The doctor said I had torn my lateral meniscus. I have been dealing with this injury for the past two months.

"After the doctor gave me this information I decided that I would not go on this road trip. Same knee, same injury (as last summer)."

The suspension followed WNBA rules – in order to pick up another player, one player had to be suspended since the league no longer has Injured Reserve – and Anosike was concerned about the reaction to the news as she didn't want to be cast in false light.

The Lynx were in the playoff hunt and when Anosike was unable to play, Minnesota needed another player on the roster, so the Lynx signed Jessica Adair to replace Anosike. Adair was in training camp with Minnesota and played one preseason game before being released. Los Angeles beat Minnesota on Friday night to secure its playoff spot.

Anosike's agent read the assorted news articles on the suspension and advised Anosike to contact the media so that WNBA fans would know her point of view and concerns for her long-term health. The suspension was essentially a business decision.

"It is a real suspension," Anosike said. "There is nothing fishy going on. I was suspended until the end of the season. I don't know exactly what the fine for that is but they told me it's around $2,000."

Anosike would not have been able to play for the final week of the season without risking additional injury to the knee, so she opted to return to Tennessee for surgery and rehab.

Anosike also plays overseas – she joined her team late last fall because of the same injury – and her primary concern is the long-term health of her knee. She hopes the news of the suspension didn't seem to be a reflection of her character.

"It shouldn't be," Anosike said. "But I think that is the way (some) people want it to pan out with these articles coming out on the Internet. It's the way the story has been portrayed."

Anosike believed that Lady Vol and Lynx fans likely would not have questioned her character.

"I think from college to this point they know that there was more to this story," she said.

Anosike will spend the next few weeks in Knoxville with Moshak in the same course of action as last year. Once healed and physically fit she plans to play overseas, but that paycheck is not a concern for her right now.

"I am not even worried about that," Anosike said. "I went over a month late last year because all I wanted to do is get healthy. Was the team overseas mad at me? Yes, but I can't worry about what's going on there. I have to worry about myself and make sure that I am healthy.

"I am not even thinking about overseas or anything like that. People speculate and think that is what is important to me, but it's really not. Anyone who knows me understands I am not playing for the money. I am out there being passionate and playing hard because I love the game."

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