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May 16, 2007 at 9:49 AM

Country breakfast

The organization just wrapped up its annual tipoff breakfast at the Spirit of Washington Events Center, raising $2,500 for Renton’s area youth and family services. Although there was a tinge of man-it-would-have-been-cool-if-an-arena-could-have-been-built-here feeling, the players and coaches made the event hilarious with their answers to questions and jabs at each other. Seriously, I think this group of Storm uncut is the wittiest in franchise history.
Forward Wendy Palmer got a good dig when a woman asked if the new uniforms featured shorter shorts. “We don’t want to go back to the days of Charles Barkley and Anne Donovan (No. 7),” she said, getting a rise out of the crowd and making Donovan blush.
Teammate Lauren Jackson quickly added, “as long as they’re not bodysuits [as worn in Australia], I’m OK.”
Later when asked what the Storm received for winning their 2004 WNBA title, Jackson revealed that former owner and coffee guru Howard Schultz gave everyone a $5 gift card to Starbucks. In Australia it was worth $6.50, so the star was able to also buy her mother a cup of java. After the crowd stopped giggling (and snickering at Schultz’s cheapness), Sue Bird smoothed the edges by telling the audience that Ray Allen bought everyone a bouquet of flowers. So sweet.
My favorite moment, though, was when rookie Katie Gearlds was asked about her pregame rituals. It struck me that because Jackson joined the franchise at 19, growing up in Seattle, this is really the first time that the Storm has a true rookie. And Gearlds acts every bit of the part. She’s quiet, wide-eyed, and learning that all of her superstitions in college will have to change in the pros with travel and team responsibilities interrupting her old routine.
Gearlds told the crowd of about 400 that she loves country music, which didn’t go over so well with the Renton audience. Jackson scrunched her face as if she’d just bit into a lemon, not believing there was a country music fan on the roster.
In the locker room before games you hear pure hip-hop and ocassionally some Aussie pop afterward if Jackson has a standout game. Sometimes if you’re there early enough, according to Bird, Iziane Castro Marques plays her Brazilian music. Then Jackson comes in and changes the beat to Marilyn Manson. By the time Bird arrives it’s a consensus, er, hip-hop.
“Those that are in a minority usually don’t say anything,” Bird said later. “We might play some country, but I don’t know about before a game.”
The event concluded with the team taking a photo on stage and mingling with the crowd. Forward Shyra Ely was voted best dressed, wearing a crisp navy Guess shirt dress with suede Steve Madden platform pumps and a bronze Chloe bag. Jackson was nearly worst dressed because her tailored black pant suit with her name stitched on the inside panels looked uber casual from a distance. And she wore her hair in a messy bun. Up close, however, she was wearing Louis Vuitton monogram boat shoes, diamond earrings, and the suit was sharp but comfy.

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