More fans need to jump on the Storm bandwagon
"If you love sports and love a winner, why aren't you paying attention to the Storm?" Seattle player Swin Cash asked rhetorically. By any measure, this is an elite team.
Seattle Times staff columnist
On a bus ride to the airport, another victory fresh in their minds, the hottest team in our nippy sports town remained indifferent about its success.
"So, what are we now?" a Storm player wondered earlier this week, asking aloud if anyone knew the team's record.
Hard to keep track of all those wins, huh?
The Storm has 19 victories, against only two losses. This team has won 10 consecutive games and boasts the only winning road record (9-2) in the WNBA. In a compact, 12-team league defined by parity, the Storm is 5 ½ games better than the next-best team. In the Western Conference, they have an unbelievable 10 ½-game lead.
By any measure, they're an elite team. They win by the most points (9.47 point differential) and outrebound opponents by the widest margin. They have the No. 2 field-goal percentage defense. They have the game's best player, Lauren Jackson. They have the best point guard, Sue Bird. They have another relentless perennial All-Star, Swin Cash. They probably have the best starting five, and with the additions of Svetlana Abrosimova, Jana Vesela and Le'Coe Willingham, their bench has been among the most effective.
The team is eminently likable, on and off the court. And with the Mariners and Sounders FC bumbling, the Storm is your best hope — your only hope — for pro sports excellence this season.
So, this call to action should be obvious.
While the Storm players and coaches are nonchalant about their accomplishments because they have championship aspirations, the rest of us shouldn't be so blasé.
"If you love sports and love a winner, why aren't you paying attention to the Storm?" Cash asked rhetorically. "Why aren't you covering us more in the media? People talk a lot about what we don't have, or who's not winning, around here. Well, this is Seattle's team, too. This isn't Portland's team. This isn't Los Angeles' team. This is Seattle's team.
"Get on board or else you're going to miss the boat."
Let's not debate the entertainment value of women's basketball here. The Storm is stocked with players who have won multiple championships and Olympic medals. It's asinine to argue the legitimacy of world-class athletes.
If you appreciate the WNBA, you already understand. If you are a dissenter, there's nothing wrong with that as long as you aren't forming opinions from ignorance. But if you haven't been introduced to this team, or this brand of basketball, now would be an ideal time to give it a try.
You'll have a chance to witness greatness. These players are determined to be more than a regular-season wonder.
Consider the three-game road trip they just completed. To come away unscathed, they needed three overtimes to beat Phoenix. Then, against Minnesota, guard Tanisha Wright hit a three-pointer with 52.6 seconds remaining to punctuate a dramatic come-from-behind victory. On Tuesday, they outlasted San Antonio 80-74 for their 10th straight victory. But after the game, the exhausted team celebrated by cautioning themselves against complacency.
"In the locker room, we took it upon ourselves to talk about how we're not playing our best," Bird said. "We need to get back to where we were earlier in the season. We told ourselves to learn from that game like we would from a loss."
For Storm coach Brian Agler, that kind of focus and accountability allows him to put extreme trust in this team. He's known as a taskmaster, but what do you do when your team is adept at staying on task? Well, you enjoy the gift and keep presenting new challenges, knowing the team can handle them.
"I think they're an enjoyable group to watch," said Agler, the third-year coach/personnel chief whose team can match the best 22-game start in league history with one more victory. "I think they're extremely competitive. I don't know if there's ever a perfect team. I don't think ours is a perfect team. But I think we've got great talent. How we play together and get the best out of each other is something special."
This season is a natural progression, really. Since winning the 2004 title, the franchise has endured five straight first-round exits. Those struggles have helped them learn, rearrange the roster and develop mental toughness.
"I was like, 'I don't want to be a part of that, I don't want that attached to my name,' " said Cash, who has been around for two of the quick playoff exits. "Sometimes, you have to be honest with yourself and ask, 'What defines you?' I want to be a winner. We all do."
No guarantees, but the Storm can be a kind of team Seattle rarely sees — a champion.
Get on board. Now.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer
About Jerry Brewer
Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
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