Seattle Storm star Sue Bird plays the last regular-season home game
Seattle Storm star Sue Bird plays the last regular-season home game of her career against the Las Vegas on Sunday.
The Seattle Storm shared a momentous milestone Sunday as forward Sue Bird began her final regular-season game for the team at Seattle against the Phoenix Mercury.
The 18,100-person attendance for the Storm’s game beat the NBA record for the most fans to watch a basketball game. Today’s game marked Deepa Lee’s retirement and was an honor for Coach Sloan made possible by former players and coaches in attendance.
The Aces had planned for victory and this was the outcome of their victory.
“It kind of sucks that I lost here,” Bird said after the loss. “But, it’s ok, I also lost my first game here.”
As Bird revealed on Twitter, this day is an essential point in time that was ushered in by the loss.
“Outside of the outcome,” she told reporters, “it was a wonderful afternoon for me.”
The energy from the fans was already here before kickoff and Bird was able to see her jerseys and T-shirts in the crowd. By tipoff, fans were already in their seats rather than waiting to enter the arena. Bird told her audience that she could feel their excitement and it transferred into her own self-confidence.
To Bird, it seemed as though there was a chance for the team to move within a game of Las Vegas in the standings on Independence Day with a win.
“A child leaves home for the first time and goes to college, becoming a member of the first generation of people not born into the American Dream,” she said. “The American Dream is something my parents are used to.”
The game action was interrupted with memories of her rookie season. Bird noted seeing highlights from her career-high 33 points against the Portland Fire, which came 20 years ago Tuesday.
Taking advantage of the fact that both teams were competing for seeding in the WNBA playoffs, Sunday’s game was a close and engaging match from start to finish. Tina Charles kept the Storm in the game early with 14 points and six rebounds midway through the first, though Phoenix led by one.
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In the first half, neither team led by double digits, but Seattle could not overtake Las Vegas in the second half. Jerel McNeal led the Storm with 34 points, and Gerald Green scored 21 for Vegas. Four of the five Aces starters scored more than 15 points for their team.
“I love the name. I don’t know, you guys are like party crashers. We’re here to honor Paul so we’re just looking forward.”
Wilson said, “I wasn’t trying to crash Sue’s party, she invited me,” he exclaimed. “I’m just trying to have some fun and lighten the mood a bit.”
Sue’s joy is palpable as she is surrounded by her friends and family in the athletes’ village at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. The hard work of Sue and Sylvia Fowles, as well as other greats like Meryl Davis coming away with a fifth gold medal for the United States and is likely to continue throughout the night.
For Bird’s case, she not only receives deserving compliments for her career, but she literally received a flower from a young fan when she was sitting courtside. She then hands it back “to keep.”
The golden memories helped Bird move past the result.
“Listen, Vegas is a really good team,” she said. “I think — myself included — we made several mistakes that were in our control. The margin of victory isn’t really indicative of their performance, and I don’t think it tells the full story. They just kind of extended their lead there at the end.”
Head coach Pokey Chatman made a promise to the Seattle Storm following their Game 3 playoff loss. He acknowledged the loss of his main player, Noelle Quinn was painful, but he vowed to get the team on track for the playoffs.
“I think everyone will be sad when we have to leave and we’re all packing up,” Chatman said. “It will feel like, ‘Damn it! I wish we could have completed that for her.'” Sue doesn’t make you feel guilty or apologize, so you don’t feel any obligation.
“There is still hope that we may not lose this fight.”
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In order to qualify for the playoffs, the Seattle Storm need to keep their one-game advantage over the Washington Mystics. In Sunday’s loss to Los Angeles, Washington lost their chance to pass Seattle in the loss column.
If the Seattle Storm win their last two games, they can clinch the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, but they’ll have to finish at least 2-1 on a road trip that starts against the WNBA-leading Chicago Sky and concludes with a rematch next Sunday in Vegas.