Here on the eve of the 2005 playoffs, I feel compelled to explain my love of the Seattle Storm. People often look at me strangely when they hear I like women’s basketball, especially because I’m not much of a sports person, but if you’ve been to a Storm game or even seen them on TV, you might understand.
The first reason, the reason the team is where they are today, is not our superstars LJ and Sue. It is Coach Anne Donovan. Anyone can tell that this woman is one of those people who is just good inside and out. She’s so accomplished and strong while being so genuine and humble – I think it’s obvious why this team could lose half it’s players from last year, recruit and assimilate a ton of young rookies and International players this year, and have the same record at the end of this season that the national title winning team had last year. It’s because of Anne. Because she’s the kind of person those players would learn the most from and be the most inspired by – someone that they love like a mother and respect like an idol. They want to please her and they feel that they are able to accomplish what they need to due to her love and support. Anne is why this team is working so well. Every Storm fan will tell you their heart nearly burst when they found out she’d signed a multi-year contract with the Storm after the game on Saturday – it was an awesome moment.
The second reason I love the Storm is our rock star players, Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird. Besides being absolutely amazingly gorgeous (I honestly wonder if the Storm would have the highest attendance in the WNBA if they weren’t), they exude "it", albeit in different ways. LJ is the strong silent type – shy to strangers off court but absolutely confident of her abilities. Many journalists and other basketball freaks consider her to be the best woman player in history. And Sue – where do I begin? She is just smart – sharp as a whip. She’s the quarterback and LJ is the linebacker. She controls it all and wants to set everyone else up to succeed (she has a very high assist record) but when push comes to shove and she gets mad she can single-handedly turn a game around with a couple of quick 3’s. She’s just so good – it’s incredible watching her. And off court – what a ham! She is such a little smart aleck and is quite entertaining. I’m sure she’ll have a career in entertainment after her run in the WNBA is over.
The third reason I love the Storm is the rest of the team – every one of them has stepped up and improved so much this year. From Badgrrl Betty Lennox (2004 Playoffs MVP) to rookie Suzy Batgirl Batkovic (LJ’s mate from the Aussie Olympic Team), they are all so unique and likeable. We cheer when any one of them comes out onto the floor because they are all awesome individuals. Their camaraderie, smiles and affection for each other is palpable and you can’t help but feel like part of their group as you witness their challenges and successes. They are so open and real, unlike any other sports team I’ve ever seen. There is no diva attitude, no money grubbing disloyalty, no pedestal from which they look down on us. We are all there together as part of the team.
Which brings me to the last reason I love the Storm – Storm fans. As LJ says in a promo spot, "We aren’t the WNBA champions because our bench is 11 players deep – we are the champions because our bench is 17,000 players deep." It’s indisputable that we have the largest, loudest, most spirited fans in the WNBA. LJ even said we are the best crowd she’s ever played for in her life which is saying a lot as an international player, All Star and Olympian. Games are such a fun experience – there are all kinds of people, families and kids, freaks in green and yellow face paint and wigs, creating a thunderous roar and showing our love and appreciation. We border on obsessive (ok, some have crossed the line) and gather online at stormfans.org, which is so active and connected that the Storm office has said they hear news from us (trades, injuries, etc) before they hear it from the source.
So beg borrow or steal to get to the first home playoff game on Thursday – it will be a scene like you’ve never seen (unless you were there for last year’s amazing ride all the way to the top). I’m even planning on going to Sacramento next week if we go to round 2! I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
(Did I mention they play basketball? 😉