In case you missed it, the Storm is celebrating its 10th anniversary. To mark the historical achievement, the brain trust got together during the offseason to devise a plan to select the young organization’s All-Decade team. Voting began in May and concludes on the team’s web site on July 3. The announcement will be made later that month and I’m told the players will be flown in for a ceremony on Aug. 1, which also will be attended by WNBA president Donna Orender.
I’m still irked at the decision to sift through names, nominating 24 for final tally, instead of allowing fans to select from everyone (although you can write-in names). Especially since the player who scored the first basket, Katirna Hibbert, is omitted and the player who didn’t do much in a Storm uniform, Sheryl Swoopes, is included. Yet, it was still entertaining to rummage through old stories and artifacts to remember what was and wonder what could be.
Sidestepping my own norm, I’m going to stick with the rules submitted by the Storm and release my ballot for the All-Decade team. But here’s to you Hibbert, game footage will show how hard it was to get that first basket. As a writer who knows how much offense is important to attendance/interest, you’ll never be forgotten for getting this Storm rolling.
In no order, here’s my team:
PG Sue Bird: OK, maybe there’s a little order here. While Lauren Jackson will be remembered for her prowess on the court, the power forward needed an offensive orchestrator. Even without liking each other their first season, Bird and Jackson connected to help lead the Storm into the 2002 playoffs during Bird’s rookie season. Jackson, still young, only nabbed the Storm four more wins her rookie season in 2001. Bird, learning and growing a lot through the years, leads the Storm all-time in assists (1,298). Whether through free agency or retirement, as soon as Bird stops playing for the Storm, her number should be retired.
PF Lauren Jackson: The two-time MVP is as unique as the city. She’s grown into a defensive menace and no matter what happens to the WNBA, people will be talking about their memories of watching Jackson play like they do Steve Largent or Ken Griffey Jr. The native Australian made a lot of personal sacrifices to help lead the Storm to its 2004 championship and displayed her loyalty in returning during unrestricted free agency last winter to conclude her career in Seattle. She’s the all-time leader in points (4,766), rebounds (1,935), blocks (499), games played (244), and personal fouls (767). Ditto on the jersey thing. In fact, hold the ceremony now.
C Kamila Vodichkova: The Czech Republic native (pictured right by NBAE) was the organization’s first true pro. She’d sit in the locker room prior to games with her coffee and scouting reports, preparing for the opponent. Bruised afterward, she rarely spoke ill of officiating. The team’s first-ever draft pick, she got the Storm rolling offensively in Game 3 of the championship series against Connecticut. Without that start, who knows if Bird and Lennox would have been able to bring it home in the second half. Vodichkova left her mark, ranking among the Storm’s top-5 in points (1,202), blocks (70), games played (146), and, of course, personal fouls (426).
SG Betty Lennox: The lightning rod only spent four seasons in a Storm jersey, but was that third piece Seattle needed to open up its offense, taking pressure off Jackson. Lennox averaged 22.3 points en route to being named Finals MVP. The diminutive guard displayed her best in Game 2, a shoot-out with Sun G Nykesha Sales that Lennox won when her opponent missed a buzzer-beater. Lennox’s family also added spice to KeyArena, her brother attending in an array of colorful suits. She ranks second all-time in Storm scoring (1,623).
C Simone Edwards: The last of the originals to leave the team in 2005, Edwards played every type of role possible for the Storm. Her most indelible may be the towel-waving, baby-kissing, crowd-amping antics that created a fun atmosphere at KeyArena. But she also had her moments in helping the Storm win their championship. Now, she remains involved in the community through her foundation. Edwards ranks fourth all-time in Storm history in blocked shots (56).
F Adia Barnes: One of the team’s better defenders, an ACL tear in 2003 cut Barnes’ ride in green and gold short. She battled back to be part of the killer bench for the 2004 run, joining Chelle Thompson, Janell Burse, Michelle Greco, Tully Bevilaqua, and Edwards as buoys for the Storm all season. Yet, Barnes never fully recovered. She remains a fan favorite, however, giving to the community after her departure through her foundation and the team as a radio color analyst.
SG Edna Campbell: Once Hibbert got things rolling, Campbell took over, scoring a team-high 22 points in the Storm’s inaugural game. And Campbell continued to rock from there. Sure, there were only six wins that first season, but Campbell was the leading scorer in three of them. Plus, playing in just 16 games due to knee problems, she finished the season as the team’s leading scorer (13.9). During the offseason, Campbell was part of the team’s worst trade in history, swapped for aging Olympian Katy Steding, who averaged 3.9 points, and a second-round draft pick (Lucienne Berthieu).
PG Tully Bevilaqua: Another key member of the 2004 title team, Bevilaqua pulled out a win for Seattle when Bird went down in the early rounds with a broken nose. She also provided solid defense and timely three-pointers. The Australian’s defense became an expectation in the backcourt that Bird is just now nearing. Bevilaqua also was popular with the fans, energizing the crowd with her expressive nature. You could also say Bevilaqua’s revival was in Seattle. Nearly cut in training camp, she currently has the Indiana Fever atop the Eastern Conference.
C Janell Burse: Part of the daring trade with Sheri Sam from Minnesota in 2004, Burse continues to blossom into a well-rounded post in Seattle. A shoulder and foot injury prevented her from playing in 2008, yet she’s back to make key contributions to help the Storm get off to a solid 5-2 start. Burse is one of the team’s better all-time rebounders (641) and shot blockers (75).
SF Swin Cash: While All-anything teams are a nod to the past, there’s always a look to the future. The WNBA’s All-Decade team did this by naming Bird and Jackson among the players with five or less years experience in the league and I’m going to do it with Cash. Much like Wendy Palmer, Yolanda Griffith, and Swoopes, look at stats and there’s no reason for Cash to be on this team. She was the team’s third-leading scorer (11.3) her only complete season in 2008. And Seattle was an impressive 15-4 when she scored in double figures. A back injury nixed that momentum after six games and the star-studded roster ended in a fourth consecutive, first-round playoff exit. Have you seen Cash play lately? Rehabilitated from March outpatient back surgery, she averaging a modest 11.4 points but her defense (4.9 boards) has opposing fans asking “When did you become Detroit?” Cash appears to be on an uptick and, even though she created a lot of hubbub at this point last season, this time it should stick. And I don’t want to look back in 10 years and say I missed out on that.
So, that’s mine, who do did you submit?