Sue Bird was elated, in one year she exorcized all of her basketball ghosts from losing in the opening round of the past five WNBA playoffs to the 2006 bronze-medal finish at the FIBA world championships in Brazil. On Sunday, Bird completed the rare triple-crown as the starting PG of the EuroLeague, WNBA, and Worlds championship teams.
“It was a little bit of a Year of Redemption for me personally,” said Bird via phone from Czech Republic after Team USA defeated the host country 89-69 for gold and the automatic berth to the 2012 Olympics. “Winning a championship always feels good. You don’t have to look back and regret anything. You’re proud of what you’ve done and to tie it with the WNBA title feels great. We pretty much dominated and we didn’t do that in 2006, so I’m glad we were able to accomplish that.”
By her side was Storm All-Star Swin Cash, who was moved to a reserve role in the tournament, but whose defense and leadership was key in the championship game. With the win, Cash joined Bird, Diana Taurasi, Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and Kara Wolters as players who’ve won NCAA, WNBA, Olympic and world titles.
“This was the last piece of the puzzle for me to add to the trophy case,” said Cash, who won her two NCAA titles with Bird at Connecticut. “It has been a long run and I can say that throughout my career I’ve been blessed to win at every level, now, completely. I’m going to enjoy that blessing, not look too far to the future, and take it day by day.”
Bird and Cash returned stateside Monday.
Bird will celebrate her 30th birthday on Oct. 16 in New York and pop in and out of Seattle until joining her Russian team in January. Cash returned to Pittsburgh where her mother is hosting a post-birthday/WNBA/World Championship party. Cash turned 31 on Sept. 22. She is going to take a break, diving into her foundation and possible television broadcast work.
Cash hasn’t signed with an overseas team and would not comment about her unrestricted free agent status with the Storm.
“This day marks the start of my vacation,” said Bird on Sunday. “I will be parting both for the WNBA and for this. I’m going to enjoy myself.”
Coincidentally (not really since the job is to follow the players), the blog is shutting down for its vacation, too. We’ll return Nov. 14 for Washington’s season opener against Portland State at Hec Ed.
Thanks for reading!
DIANA NUDE: Phoenix star Diana Taurasi is nude on the second edition of ESPN The Magazine’s “The Body Issue.” It’s an artful collection of showing athletes’ bodies in the buff and Taurasi is the first WNBA player to be featured. In 2004, three-time MVP Lauren Jackson did a similar shoot for an Australian publication prior to the Athens Olympics.
Taurasi’s was described as turning the 2009 MVP’s image upside down. Hardly. When thinking of players who might pose nude, she’s among the first to spring to mind. The cover shot shown above looks great and I can’t wait to pick up my copy on Friday.
ALL WOMEN: ESPN plans to launch a new all-women’s network, first as a blog and then maybe as a sports channel. Could be good for the WNBA since the league can’t seem to get on ESPN2 despite the corporation owning the league’s broadcast rights.
There was a retreat in San Diego, which was attended by stars and reps from the WNBA like Carolyn Peck and Marion Jones (Tulsa). Word from the sessions were a little odd when pedicures were mentioned, although this is a big thing off-court with basketball players. We’ll see what happens. More exposure in any format (Taurasi pun not intended) is always a good thing.
LOWER RIMS?: Players are just starting to weigh-in on FIBA’s idea to lower the traditional 10-foot basketball rim to improve appeal of the game to a wider audience. Like fans, they’re questioning the reasoning.
“That’s just craziness,” Cash said on Sunday. “I don’t see a point in that. I mean, it’s up to them. We play by their rules, but I don’t see a point to that. Especially since there are girls on the court who are 6-7, 6-5. It would be different at first, but we could make the transition. We’re professional athletes. That’s what we do.”
NEW SPOT: Former Storm G Stacy Clinesmith is back in Washington. A former Oregon State assistant, she accepted a position at Central Washington in September. The Wildcats open their D-II schedule Nov. 15 against the University of Hawai’i at Hilo at Nicholson Pavilion.
GO CAMPING: Seattle U. coach Joan Bonvicini, along with several other basketball experts, including Jenny Boucek of the Storm, will host a free coaches clinic on Saturday, Oct. 23. The clinic will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Connolly Center and is designed to provide information to coaches on offensive and defensive systems, as well as drills to help enhance individual programs. For more information, log onto www.GoSeattleU.com, www.CoachBonvicini.com or call the basketball office at 206-296-5483.
FAN FEST: The hottest college basketball is across the mountain at Gonzaga. The team will host its “Fan Fest” on Oct. 23 and it’ll be an interesting season, especially since senior PG Courtney Vandersloot is back without go-to players Heather Bowman and Vivian Frieson. The trio helped the Zags advance to their first Sweet 16 last year.
STILL SURVIVING: Former Storm original Edna Campbell is in Texas, helping to raise breast health awareness. Campbell was diagnosed while playing for defunt Sacramento. Since then, she’s completed her degree in nursing and is a spokesperson.