The Seattle Storm won the pandemic-shortened 2020 WNBA title last night with a blowout 92-59 victory over the Las Vegas Aces. The Storm swept the series three games to none to clinch their fourth championship, tying them with the Houston Comets and Minnesota Lynx for the most titles in league history. Breanna Stewart won her second Finals MVP, making her one of only five players with multiple MVP trophies. But the real story of the night might be about the team's tenacious veteran, Sue Bird, who has been with the team for all four championships.
The victory stamped Storm point guard as part of an elite group of athletes with awe-inspiring accolades. Her list of victories is mind-boggling for any sports fan. She has won four WNBA Championships in four different decades, making her the first ever to do so. To put that into perspective, only journeyman John Salley and all-time great Tim Duncan have done the same in the NBA. She’s also won four Olympic gold medals playing for Team USA, tying her for the most golds won by an individual basketball player and only one behind Teresa Edwards for most medals ever. Add four FIBA World Cup titles and five EuroLeague Championships, and one begins to realize there really is no living comparison to the achievements of the 11-time WNBA All-Star and 8-time member of the All-WNBA team. Oh, and she also won two NCAA Championships playing for UConn.
Just as impressive as her longevity and list of achievements is the fact she accomplished all of this playing for just one team. One must almost go back to the days when Bill Russell and his Boston Celtics dominated the NBA during the 1960s to have won so many accolades as well as doing it with just one team.
“I think the fact that I've been able to do it in different decades, with the same franchise, not many people can say that,” Bird was quoted by ESPN telling reporters following the win. “To recreate it over time and stay at a high level over time is definitely something I'm proud of, because it hasn't been easy.”
Bird celebrated the victory with her partner, Team USA soccer great Megan Rapinoe. The pair were captured making confetti angels on the floor after the game.
The achievements this year are more impressive because she battled injuries for the last two seasons as well as throughout her playing career. She tore her ACL in college and endured multiple knee surgeries since then. Bird missed all of last year, but her performance in this year’s series was nothing short of historic. She dished out a career high and WNBA playoff and Finals record 16 assists, and averaged 11 assists for the series, tying her for the best ever. Her ball handling and game management was key to the Storm’s impressive Finals victory.
“This is the one time I'm not going to sugarcoat it. It's been hard,” Bird told reporters. “A lot of ups, a lot of downs. I think the hardest part about being an older player is when there's that down physically, you start to question whether you can do it anymore.”
After her performance in the Finals this year, it’s pretty clear Sue Bird has plenty of championship-level basketball left in her tank. The only question is if there’s enough to last until the next decade.