All of the starters for the Seattle Storm watched from the bench grinning from ear to ear.
With just minutes left in the game, they could taste another championship coming their way. In the “wubble,” the WNBA bubble, for more than four months, they would soon be leaving victorious.
On Tuesday night, the Storm put on a stellar performance over the Las Vegas Aces, in a 92-59 win. Seattle swept the Aces in a five-game series at IMG Academy. The Storm went perfect in the playoffs with a 6-0 record. This championship for Seattle would tie for the most titles in WNBA history, with the Houston Comets and the Minnesota Lynx also with four championships.
The players in the “wubble” dealt with so much adversity. Many teams were not competing with their whole roster because of the coronavirus pandemic. Teams only played 22 games in the regular season with a quick turn around between each game. The league also dedicated the season to Breonna Taylor, the Say Her Name campaign and other social justice issues.
From game one of the series between the Las Vegas Aces and Seattle Storm, all eyes were on A’ja Wilson of Las Vegas. Wilson came into the series as the reigning MVP and took complete control during the regular season. She averaged more than 20 points during the regular season. Wilson is a force down low, but would she have a strong enough supporting cast to outlast this deep Storm team?
Wilson had two strong performances in the first two games of the series, but the Aces had a difficult time defending the Storm. In game three, Wilson recorded 14 points at halftime but lacked help from her teammates.
Breanna Stewart led the Storm during the series. Stewart averaged 25.7 points per game during the playoffs. She was not sure if she would even play in the 2020 season after suffering an Achilles injury in April 2019 overseas. “I know, I remember where I was last year during the WNBA Finals — I was in North Carolina with my family,” Stewart toldESPN. In addition, Stewart was the unanimous pick for the finals MVP. She worked hard to make a comeback for the season, and she did that and more.
Before the season started, the Storm were the favorites because of their full roster with many experienced players. With only four losses during the season the Storm also tied with the Aces with an 18-4 record — the best in the WNBA. The Aces won both regular-season matchups, but Sue Bird did not play in either one of the games. Even though two of Seattle’s losses came to Las Vegas, the Storm turned it up another notch during the playoffs. They swept the Minnesota Lynx in the semifinals and the first game was the closest between the two teams, 88-86, credited to Alysha Clark’s putback with seconds left in the game.
Sue Bird would be the big impact the Storm needed to win against the Las Vegas Aces. Bird told ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel, “The fact that I’ve been able to do it in different decades, with the same franchise, not many people can say that.” In Bird’s 17th season in the league, she is the one player left for the Storm that has won all four of the championships with the franchise.
Bird also battled some injuries during the shortened season with a bone bruise to her knee that caused her to miss 11 games. That would not stop her though. In game one of the finals, Bird set a new record with 16 assists, the most in a final and postseason game.
This was certainly an emotional night for Storm’s Jewell Loyd, who lost her close friend and mentor Kobe Bryant when he died earlier this year in a helicopter crash. Bryant nicknamed Loyd “Gold Mamba,” and she dedicated this championship to him and the Bryant family.
The Storm were in command during the playoffs and this championship did not come easy with all of the challenges presented throughout the season. Seattle is not looking to slow down one bit in the upcoming years, and they are going to continue chasing more rings.