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Topic: Tina Thompson

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January 3, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Karen Bryant resigns as Storm president and CEO

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Storm president and CEO Karen Bryant

Longtime Storm executive Karen Bryant resigned on Friday. The team is searching for a replacement for when her term ends at the conclusion of the 2014 season.

“I feel that now is the right time to step away from the Storm,” Bryant said in a released statement. “I am so proud of all that we have accomplished the past 14 seasons. Right now, I am focused and excited about the upcoming celebration of the Storm’s 15th anniversary season.”

Bryant, 46, was the team’s first employee when Seattle was awarded a franchise in 1999. She previously was part of the defunct Seattle Reign, helping the city transition from harsh perceptions about the WNBA and its possible involvement in the dissolving of the ABL in December 1998.

A native of Edmonds who currently resides in Leschi, Bryant used her Washington roots to build the Storm into one on the league’s ideal franchises with a passionate fan base and perennial All-Stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson who led Seattle to two WNBA championships (2004, 2010). The Storm advanced to a WNBA-record 10th playoff appearance in 2013, losing in the opening round to the eventual champion Minnesota.

Bryant led the Storm through four ownership groups, three coaches, two championships and one split from the NBA when the Sonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008.

News of Bryant’s departure comes at a tenuous time for the WNBA. On Thursday, Los Angeles Sparks chairman Paula Madison announced her family-owned company could no longer be involved with the charter franchise. NBA commissioner David Stern, who initiated the birth of the league, is retiring in February and the CBA expired in September.

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Comments | More in Storm, WNBA | Topics: Karen Bryant, Tina Thompson

December 26, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Storm All-Star Tina Thompson and Seattle U coach Joan Bonvicini nominated for award

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Storm All-Star Tina Thompson

Storm All-Star Tina Thompson and Seattle U coach Joan Bonvicini are among the city’s six women nominated for Female Sports Star of the Year by the Seattle Sports Commission. Winners will be announced Jan. 22, 2014 during the 79th annual Sports Star of the Year banquet at Benaroya Hall downtown.

Created by Royal Brougham and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1936, the event celebrates achievements of those in the local sports community and industry. Anyone can vote once every 24 hours for the winners on the commission’s website.

Voting began earlier in December and runs through Jan. 15, 2014. The total vote is based 50 percent by the public and 50 percent by the Sports Star Committee.

Storm All-Stars Sue Bird (2002), Lauren Jackson (2003) and former coach Anne Donovan, who led the franchise to its first WNBA championship in 2004, were past winners from the pro basketball team. Former Stanford All-American, Kate Starbird, won in 1997.

Thompson, who won the inaugural four WNBA championships with the defunct Houston Comets, retired after a 17-year career in the league. Playing her final two seasons for the Storm, she finished as the all-time leading WNBA scorer with 7,488 points and is second on the all-time rebounding list with 3,070.

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Comments | More in Overseas Hoops, Seattle U, Storm | Topics: Joan Bonvicini, Tina Thompson

November 18, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Monday dribble: Pac-12 stumbles, WNBA tops MLS and Tina Thompson playing again

BasketballThe NCAA hoops season not even being a month old may be the sole lifesaver for the way the Pac-12 made its 2013-14 debut. Cal got beat by George Washington, UCLA showed its obvious transition in losses to No. 11 Nebraska and No. 12 North Carolina, and Stanford looked out of its league against UConn.

Don’t play. The Cardinal’s showing on ESPN “Big Monday” had nothing to do with UConn being a given dominating team over the women’s basketball landscape. There are some glaring issues for the young Card.

Add Washington’s loss to Portland, giving up 91 points, and I wouldn’t blame the East Coast for heading to bed instead of staying up to catch a glimpse of the conference.

The stumbles led to the Card dropping three spots to No. 6 in the AP poll. The Golden Bears (2-2) did play without posts Gennifer Brandon and Justine Hartman due to illnesses, but voters weren’t forgiving and dropped them seven places to No. 17. Colorado (2-0) hasn’t played a competitive opponent (and won’t until it travels to No. 4 Louisville on Dec. 21,), keeping the Buffs at a respectable No. 16 ranking.

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Comments | More in Northwest Ballers, Polls, Storm, WNBA | Topics: Stanford, Tina Thompson

September 18, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Transcript: WNBA All-Star Tina Thompson’s farewell speech at KeyArena

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All-Star Tina Thompson and her son Dyllan (seated) react to Storm teammates wearing her signature lipstick and jersey as part of her WNBA retirement ceremony at KeyArena on Sept. 14, 2013.
Photo courtesy of Storm season-ticket holder Amy Ridgeway of Lacey, WA

A Storm employee joked Saturday’s ceremony to honor Tina Thompson’s 17-year WNBA career was a trial run for when Storm All-Stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird retire. Then crabby journalists and employees with deadlines discussed tips we’d give Force 10 Hoops, the team’s ownership group, for those pending celebrations, mainly a Sunday afternoon game so it didn’t interfere with said deadlines. Then, again, did anyone expect Thompson to speak for 30 minutes?

Legends Gary Payton and Dawn Staley didn’t talk that long, combined, when inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. But, as I joked Saturday, when you’ve played 17 years and haven’t gloated about your career once, you have a lot to get off your chest. So, here’s what Thompson told the crowd of 8,978 at KeyArena because I’m certain she won’t repeat herself in this manner. The applause breaks are from the crowd, not Thompson:

StormCrazies, you guys are amazing! [applause] It’s been a pleasure playing in front of you guys for two seasons. I know I’ve said it many times, that it’s really difficult to come here as an opponent and play against you guys, it’s been great for two years to have you guys on my side. [applause]

When I started this journey a long time ago, I never could have imagined that this would be my ending. That I would be able to accomplish, like, so many things. I just played basketball because I loved it. I just played basketball because my brother, I thought he was pretty amazing, and he influenced me. He told me a couple things really early-on that if I was going to play the game, to play it with love and passion and never to cheat it. So, T.J., I hope I did you proud and that I [applause] and that I didn’t cheat the game that I love.

I’d like to say to my teammates…this has been. Man, this has been the best season of my career. [applause] Coming to Seattle, my expectations were so different. I mean, when you have Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson on your side, your expectations can be very high. But injuries and a lot of things just kind of happen and didn’t allow us to spend the time together that I thought. But, the experience was amazing in a sense that it put the rest of us in a situation that we probably haven’t been in before. We were faced with a lot of trials and kind of put in a place where we had to basically grind it out. Seriously. Really. It was a grind. It made me appreciate my teammates even more because it allowed me to see the true heart and soul of the people that I was playing with. [applause] Not only are they really amazing people off the court, but they are just some tough chicks on the court! And I appreciate you guys! [applause] So, I’d just like to say, if you guys can bear with me, there are so many great people here that have been a part of this journey with me and are really an inspiration in my life, I want to thank them first.

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September 15, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Poll: Which Seattle team will win the most playoff games?

The Seahawks haven’t even played a home-opener and we’re already talking about the postseason for the young, electric squad. Yeah, I’m geeked about their potential, too. But the Storm (17-17) is actually headed to the postseason this week, playing top-seed Minnesota (26-8) as the No. 4 seed in the best-of-three opening round. Game 1 of…

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September 14, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Storm playoff tickets on sale to general public Monday

StormLogoThe WNBA is saying its official good-bye Saturday to F Tina Thompson, who is retiring after a storied 17-year season. She leaves as the all-time leading scorer and winner of four WNBA championships among other feats commendable for the league’s original No. 1 draft pick in 1997.

But Thompson, 38, is far from done. The Storm, which hosts Tulsa on Saturday, makes its WNBA-record 10th straight postseason appearance when it faces top-seed Minnesota on Friday at the Target Center for the best-of-three opening round. So, technically there’s at least two games remaining for the Los Angeleno, who also starred at USC.

Thompson signed a two-year contract with Seattle to win one for the thumb. Without franchise All-Stars Lauren Jackson (hamstring) and Sue Bird (knee), no one expected the Storm to even challenge for a postseason spot. The Storm was swept by the Lynx in the regular-season series by an average of 17.3 points. But that doesn’t mean the postseason is lost as ownership figured the regular-season would be, allowing a scheduling snafu to push Seattle from its KeyArena homecourt to the Tacoma Dome for the first time in its 10-year postseason run.

Last season Minnesota swept Indiana in a home-and-home series in September 2012 only to lose 3-1 to the Fever in the best-of-five WNBA Finals. Can the Storm pull off that feat, already losing to the Lynx three times in September? Only seven times in league history has a team won the playoff series against an opponent who swept the regular-season series.

Tickets to witness Thompson’s true final run are available to general public Monday at 9 a.m.

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September 9, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Talkin’ smack: Basketball greats Dawn Staley and Gary Payton enter Naismith Hall of Fame

HOFPGsAh, the 1990s. In terms of basketball, I’ll always remember the decade as O.J. Simpson’s freeway chase that interrupted my Knicks’ playoff broadcast, Arizona winning the 1997 NCAA championship (Bear Down!) and studying poolside in Tucson while watching my two favorite point guards dish and score their way to success.

The personalities that are Dawn Staley and Gary Payton can be the only explanation why a budding young woman in Arizona would care about Seattle and Richmond, Va. Enraptured, I’d watch Staley high-step, yap-jaw and gum-smack to wins with the defunct Rage on BET. In college at Arizona (Bear Down!), I lived and died with the Sonics and Payton as I studied poolside and watched the playoff struggles on a 8-inch black-and-white TV.

I just loved watching them play and always wondered what the heck they were saying to themselves, teammates, opponents, fans, officials — seemingly anyone within earshot. Who knew I’d grow to actually find out, covering both through the Seattle Times. So, it was especially cool to witness the greatest point guards from my generation enter the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame together on Sunday.

But who entered as the greatest trash talker?

“Dawn can trash talk with the best of them,” said 17-year WNBA veteran Tina Thompson, who won Olympic gold with Staley, played with her for the defunct Houston Comets and against Staley as she starred for the defunct Charlotte Sting (1999-2006).

“Gary’s use of verbiage was a lot different,” Thompson continued in comparing the elite trash talkers. “He would be a lot more tormenting than Dawn. But they’re both pretty good trash talkers.”

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Comments | More in Northwest Ballers, Olympics, WNBA | Topics: Dawn Staley, Sue Bird, Tina Thompson

August 24, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Mailbag: Former Zag Courtney Vandersloot cliches first WNBA playoff berth and other tidbits

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Sky PG Courtney Vandersloot
ASSOCIATED PRESS

I’m talking into the abyss, so I’ll make this short. Chicago PG Courtney Vandersloot is my WNBA Most Improved Player. I’m calling it early for my standards, but the Sky clinched early. Vandersloot, the former Gonzaga and Kentwood HS star, finished with 10 points, seven assists and one turnover in Chicago’s 82-64 win on Friday to clinch its first postseason berth since the franchise was established in 2006.

“It feels good. Just thinking about from the first training camp, into the first preseason game just knowing what you have around you,” Sky C Sylvia Fowles told reporters after the win. “All these good players we’re surrounded by just makes it all so much better to be on this team and have this opportunity with this group of young women.”

Since the All-Star break, Vandersloot is averaging 11.4 points and 5.8 assists. I know, she has three All-Stars swarming her in Elena Delle Donne, Fowles and Epiphanny Prince. Delle Donne is my Rookie of the Year (duh!) and Fowles is All-WNBA first team on my ballot. However, Prince was inconsistent/injured this season, shooting 32.6 percent from the field in August. Fowles, while extremely impressive in her first healthy season, can’t handle the ball alone like Delle Donne.

I remember Vandersloot’s wild ball handling and see how its improvement in running the Sky offense plus her improved defense has helped the Sky meet expectations they’ve had since its inception in 2006 because of the incredible talent of Fowles (and Candice Dupree, etc.). Without a steady PG and veteran leadership from F Swin Cash, a three-time WNBA champion, this Sky team doesn’t see this kind of success. And I’m talking about leading the Eastern Conference with a chance to clinch the WNBA’s overall best record.

Chicago plays at Atlanta (14-10) on Saturday at 4pm (PT) on ESPN2 in hopes of retaining its 3.5-game lead on the top spot in the East.

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Comments | More in Northwest Ballers, Storm | Topics: Courtney Vandersloot, Kacie Sowell, Tina Thompson

August 1, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Washington freshman Kelsey Plum brings back World Championship gold

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Oregon State star Jamie Weisner (left) was named to FIBA U19 All-Tournament team/COURTESY OF FIBA

My first Seafair weekend will be remembered as sparkles and flowers. Everything I witnessed, whether it was the crowning of Miss Seafair 2013 or the FIBA U19 World Championships in Lithuania, the young women we doted with exquisite jewels, flowers, and medals. Well, the winners were.

In-coming Washington freshman Kelsey Plum was one. She was a deep reserve for the USA Basketball u19 World Championship team, but she did score a bucket in the gold-medal game against France. The Americans (9-0) defeated the French (7-2) on Sunday, 61-28. As the tournament grew, Plum could be seen getting more confident but definitely needs work on consistently hitting her shot.

Plum, a 5 foot 9 PG, averaged 5.2 points in an averaged 14.6 minutes. But Plum shot 27.3 percent from three-point range.

Under former coach Kevin McGuff, UW used the outside shot to counter its lack of size inside. First-year coach Mike Neighbors said the overall coaching philosophy will mirror McGuff, but the team obviously won’t have to rely on the outside shot with C Katie Collier able to play.

Still, everyone needs to be an offensive threat for the Huskies to be the successful team it envisions. Plum is already in the gym working on improving her game, hopefully that work and experienced gained overseas translates to her first year at Washington.

Here’s a clip of Plum in action against Japan. You’re supposed to be able to hear her talk about the gold-medal game but none of my electronic devises are allowing me to access the clip. Maybe you’ll have better luck.

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Comments | More in Northwest Ballers, Pac-12, Washington | Topics: Kelsey Plum, Sue Bird, Tina Thompson

July 26, 2013 at 11:30 AM

TV Alert: USA Basketball, WNBA All-Star Game on tap during Seafair weekend

WNBAAllStar2013Thank goodness for my iPad. It’s going to be a busy weekend trying to fit in my first live Renton River Days and Seafair weekend (can’t wait to see the Miss Seafair coronation at the Torchlight Parade) while also keeping up with the FIBA U19 World Championship and 2013 WNBA All-Star Game, the league’s 11th annual.

The WNBA is up first online at ESPN3.com. The league will air the Western and Eastern Conference practices from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on Friday at noon PT. Storm All-Star Tina Thompson will rep Seattle. Follow her Instagram account (@iamtinathompson) for cool pics from the weekend and even the kickoff with former teammates and family after Seattle defeated her native Los Angeles on Thursday at Staples Center.

Next up is the USA U19 squad. The winner of the Americans game against Japan on Friday will face Australia in the U19 World Championship semifinal in Lithuania on Saturday. In-coming Washington freshman PG Kelsey Plum is on the team, although UConn stars Breanna Stewart (18.2 points), Morgan Tuck (15.3 points) and Duke standout Alexis Jones (4.5 assists) are the headliners.

The first semifinal matchup airs on ESPN3 at  8am PT between Spain (7-0) and France (6-1). The Aussies (6-1) are expected to play the Americans at 10:15am on ESPN3.com on Saturday.

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Comments | More in Northwest Ballers, Storm, TV Alert, WNBA | Topics: Elena Delle Donne, Kelsey Plum, Tina Thompson

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