Seattle Storm

Seattle Storm HC Dan Hughes to miss 2020 WNBA Season

Seattle Storm HC Dan Hughes to miss 2020 WNBA Season

The Seattle Storm has announced that head coach Dan Hughes will sit out the 2020 WNBA season set to tip-off later this month in Florida due to COVID-19 concerns.

The league in conjunction with his primary physician determined he could be considered a high-risk individual for severe illness related to the virus and should sit out the season for his safety. This isn't too much of a surprise as Hughes had successful surgery in May 2019 to remove a cancerous tumor in his digestive tract. 

“I am saddened that I won’t be able to travel with the team as everyone knows how much love I have for this organization. I am thankful to be in good health and looking forward to supporting Coach Klopp and the staff and players in any way I can this season,” Hughes said.

“While the Storm family is greatly disappointed that Dan will not be able to join the team this season, his health and family are the top priority. We know he will continue to be an important voice of support for the team and staff while we compete this season,” said Alisha Valavanis, CEO and General Manager of the Storm. 

Longtime Storm assistant and former interim-head coach Gary Kloppenburg will serve as head coach for the 2020 WNBA season. He first worked for the Storm as an assistant from 2000-2002, before returning in 2017 which included filling in as interim head coach following the firing of Jenny Boucek in 2017 and once again in 2019 during Hughes’s recovery from cancer surgery. 

“Klopp is a veteran coach in this league and within our organization. His defensive background as well as his presence as a seasoned head coach position us well to compete for a championship,” Valavanis said. 

In 8 games coached in 2017, the Storm went 5-3 under Kloppenburg. 

The franchise also announced the promotion of 12-year WNBA veteran Noelle Quinn, who retired following the 2018 season and joined the Storm's coaching staff in 2019, to associate head coach. 

“Noey is an up-and-coming star in the WNBA coaching ranks. Her knowledge of the game and feel for the players’ experience make her a natural fit for our coaching staff. We are excited for her promotion and for the additional responsibility she will assume,” added Valavanis.  

The Storm finished the 2019 season with an 18-16 record, good for the sixth seed in the league, while clinching a playoff berth and the ability to host a first-round playoff game.

Seattle would beat the Minnesota Lynx 84-74, before losing 92-69 at the Los Angeles Sparks in the second round. It was considered a successful season after All-Stars Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird both suffered season-ending injuries before the season. 

On this day in history -- June 3, 2000: Portland Fire beat Seattle Storm, 65-58

On this day in history -- June 3, 2000: Portland Fire beat Seattle Storm, 65-58

After the Women’s National Basketball Association was founded on April 22, 1996, and play began the summer of 1997, the league expanded four years later.  

In 2000, the WNBA welcomed the Indiana Fever, the Miami Sol, the Seattle Storm and the Portland Fire.

The Fire joined the league as the counterpart to the Portland Trail Blazers.

In the Portland Fire’s second game of their inaugural season, the Fire defeated the Seattle Storm on the road.

It’s hard to believe that the Fire’s first season was 20 years ago and after falling to Houston at home, 93-89 on May 31, the game in Seattle was Portland’s very first WNBA victory.

In that year’s draft, Portland selected four players:

  • No. 7   pick Lynn Pride (G/F) out of Kansas
  • No. 23 pick Stacey Thomas (F) out of Michigan
  • No. 39 pick Maxann Reese (G) out of Michigan State
  • No. 55 pick Rhonda L Smith (C) out of Long Beach State

The Fire also picked up Alisa Burras (F), Sonja Henning (G), Tari Phillips (C), Coquese Washington (G), Molly Goodenbour, and Jamila Wideman (G).

In the June 3 victory over the Storm, it was starting forward Sylvia Crawley who led the way for Portland. Crawley finished with 18 points on an efficient 7-of-10 from the floor to go along with six rebounds, one assist, one steal, and two blocks. Fire starting guard Sophia Witherspoon added 11 points, while guard Tara Williams notched 10 points off the bench.

Portland went 2-1 against the Storm that season, as the Fire finished the year, 10-22, just ahead of the last place finishers in the Western Conference -- the Seattle Storm who held a 6-26 record.

Now that twenty years has passed since the Portland Fire’s first victory in the Women’s National Basketball League and after playing a total of three seasons before the team folded, we are taking a look back at what happened to the Portland Fire.

That's right! We’re excited to announce that on Tuesday, June 23, we will be releasing part one of a three-part mini documentary series on the WNBA’s Portland Fire.

June 23 is also a significant date to the organization. On that day in 2000, Portland won its first game at home in front of the enthusiastic Rose Garden crowd, beating the Storm, 72-61.

Hear from Fire head coach Linda Hargrove, former WNBA President Val Ackerman, standout players Jackie Stiles and Tully Bevilaqua, along with many other women who worked for the team in NBC Sports Northwest’s special on the Portland Fire.

I never told people this because they would think I was crazy, but internally I wanted to be the best that ever played the game... That’s why probably my body broke down because I was like ‘other people take days off, I’m not gonna take a day off.’ -- Former Portland Fire guard and the 2001 WNBA’s Rookie of the Year recipient Jackie Stiles

Part 1 of “What happened to the Portland Fire?” drops June 23 on our website and will air on NBC Sports Northwest’s 'The Bridge' on June 24. 

Breanna Stewart pens wholehearted letter to Sabrina Ionescu ahead of WNBA Draft

Breanna Stewart pens wholehearted letter to Sabrina Ionescu ahead of WNBA Draft

Just four years ago, Breanna Stewart stepped on stage as she heard her name called as the No. 1 pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft. 

Stewart grew up in New York, watched her first WNBA game at the Garden, played college basketball at UConn, and then she was headed to Seattle for a first time. 

In a way, Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu will cross paths with Stewart on Friday. The California native, who played at Oregon, will join the illustrious club of No. 1 picks in the WNBA when she is selected by the New York Liberty.

Stewart has some welcomed advice for Ionescu, who is likely headed to New York, unless something unexpected happens on draft night. 

“Let the city welcome you,” Stewart said in a video via ESPN. “You don’t have to figure it all out on your own. People will want to show you around, tell you the best non-tourists spots and restaurants.”

Stewart recognizes Ionescu’s journey, while similar, is also a lot different than her own. 

Ionescu is grieving the loss of longtime friend and mentor Kobe Bryant after his passing. She’s also leaving Oregon with “unfinished business.” The triple-double-queen was robbed of her shot at a NCAA championship title after the tournament was canceled due to COVID-19.  

You’re in a different situation now because we are now forced to embrace the unknown as we all navigate the pandemic, it’s hard to look at any positives when so much has been taken away.

It’s hard to even imagine the heartbreak. You’ve handled it with grace.

Stewart also detailed the start of her first few years with the Storm. From rupturing her Achilles and finding her identity outside of basketball to learning from the WNBA’s oldest active player, her Storm teammate Sue Bird.

“I see Sue's always busting her ass, and I need to do that, too, even more,” Stewart said. “She's already made a name for herself, but she's diligent about excellence. It has sustained her.”

“That's ultimately what it's about. You're a rookie, so you have to strike that right balance between confidence and sponge, but know that, ultimately, it's about doing the work. Show up and work hard and you earn respect.”

On Friday, Ionescu will join an exclusive club in the world of sports as the No. 1 pick. She’ll be in good company, too. 

Stewart knows Ionescu will want to live up to the standards of those who came before her, but for now, it’s all about living in the moment. You only get drafted once, and Ionescu has earned it. 
“This week, your dream is going to come true,” Stewart said, “And seeing it happen might just be what inspires a little girl to go out and try to break your records.

“She would honor all of us by doing it.”

Be sure to check out our Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and Oregon women’s head coach Kelly Graves:

CJ McCollum accepts Steve Nash, Sue Bird’s #stayinthegame challenge

CJ McCollum accepts Steve Nash, Sue Bird’s #stayinthegame challenge

The indoors won’t stop athletes from working on their craft.

We’ve all been encouraged to pursue social distancing and staying inside to help flatten the curve amid the COVID-19 pandemic. There are only so many shows to watch, Netflix streaming parties, video games and other indoor activities that people can handle. But, in times like this, it’s time to get creative.

Seattle Storm All-Star point guard Sue Bird partnered with Home Court AI, an app for your iPhone or iPad.

HomeCourt uses just your iPhone or iPad to capture and analyze how you play—from your shots, to your dribbling, to your movements. Integrating NBA-backed instruction with engaging, guided workouts powered by AI, you’ll learn new skills in a way that feels less like training and more like a video game. HomeCourt captures all your activity and provides a complete picture of how you’re improving over time. You can share your skills within your community or even with the NBA through NBA Global Scout.

Safe to say, the 39-year-old, 16-year and 3x WNBA champion Sue Bird still got handles. 

In the post, Bird nominated 8x NBA All Star and 2x MVP Steve Nash and his wife Lilla to beat her score. 

Challenge accepted.

Then Nash nominated Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum.

[RELATED]: NBA players are going stir crazy faced with new reality amid suspension

Like the others, McCollum is passing along the challenge to fellow NBA players JJ Redick and teammate Gary Trent Jr. along with his co-host of the Pull Up Pod Jordan Schultz and Nish Walsh.

This is a great way of practicing social distancing while still communicating with one another and remaining sharp on your skills.

‘I’m a lifer’: Sue Bird announces she will return to Seattle Storm for 19th season

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USA Today Images

‘I’m a lifer’: Sue Bird announces she will return to Seattle Storm for 19th season

The Bird is back.

In a video via the Seattle Storm on Tuesday, three-time WNBA champion Sue Bird announced she has re-signed with the team and will take the court for a 19th season.

“It’s no secret how I feel about the city of Seattle and the Storm franchise. I’m a lifer and to be able to re-sign is extremely exciting,” Bird said in a statement via the Storm. “I’m looking forward to getting back on the court with my teammates, and playing in front of our amazing fans.”

Bird, who holds the franchise record for points, assists, field goals and steals, missed all of the 2018 season after undergoing knee surgery. The 39-year-old’s last appearance on the court was when Seattle won its third WNBA title.

In addition to her three championships, Bird has also earned four Olympic gold medals, four FIBA World Cup gold medals and one bronze as a member of the USA Women’s National Team.

The Storm will also return 2018 league MVP Breanna Stewart, who missed last season with a ruptured right Achilles. The Storm went 18-16 last season with both stars’ sidelined.

Seattle opens the 2020 WNBA season against Dallas on May 15.

Star-studded event: A WNBA All-Star game for the record books, Seattle represented nicely

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USA Today Images

Star-studded event: A WNBA All-Star game for the record books, Seattle represented nicely

It came down to the wire in Las Vegas at the 2019 WNBA All-Star game as Team Wilson defeated Team Delle Donne on Saturday afternoon, 129-126.

Team Wilson, whose captain is Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson, held on late to knock off Team Delle Donne, whose captain is Washington Mystics star Elena Delle Donne.

Team Wilson won and she didn’t even see the floor.

The Aces forward suffered a sprained ankle earlier this month. She was replaced in the starting lineup by Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley.

Indiana Fever guard Erica Wheeler finished with a game-high 25 points and seven assists, shooting 9-of-17 from the field. Wheeler went undrafted and in her first All-Star game, she took home the MVP honors.

Wheeler hit six three-pointers in the first half coming up just one short of matching the WNBA All-Star game record.  

NBA STARS IN ATTENDANCE

NBA players were scattered all around courtside on Saturday to take in the game with the best women basketball players in the world.

Trail Blazers forward Rodney Hood, along with former Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher were just a few of the NBA stars watching from the stands.

Kobe discussed in a sideline interview with ESPN/ABC reporter Holly Rowe about his longtime special relationship with Seattle Storm All-Star guard Jewell Lloyd.

“I’ve watched her grow… She’s like a little sister to me,” Kobe said.

REPPIN’ SEATTLE

Loyd, who sat out for three and a half weeks due to an ankle sprain, returned last week just in time to make her first All-Star Game start.

Loyd finished with six points and three assists in the losing effort on Saturday.

As for Storm forward Natasha Howard, she was one of six newcomers making her All-Star Game debut.

This season injury has plagued WNBA stars all across the league, including 11-time All-Star and the Seattle Storm’s own Sue Bird (knee).

Howard scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting. She also pulled down six rebounds and had one steal in the win.

The Storm forward has been putting up MVP like numbers this season with 18.1 points, rebounds, 8.3rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game.

BREAKING RECORDS

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner broke a record and showed off her dunking skills on Saturday.

After handling the point guard duties in the first quarter, Griner took the ball up the court easily took it to the hoop and completed it for the one-handed slam. Griner didn’t wast anytime throwing down her second dunk about a minute later.

Dunk number three came later in the first half where Griner went with the two-handed slam.

Throwing down three dunks in an WNBA All-Star game was a first for any player.

Griner finished with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Also a new record: Team Wilson took a 77-63 lead at halftime, and set a new record for points in a half.

The Storm bring home the WNBA Championship

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USA Today Img.

The Storm bring home the WNBA Championship

A 16-year veteran. A 2018 WNBA MVP. And passionate city ready for another championship. The Seattle Storm, lead by all-star veteran Sue Bird and 2018 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart, sweep the Washington Mystics in three games to take home the team's third WNBA championship. 

What started as a blowout Seattle victory in game one, turned into a different story in game two. The Mystics made adjustments and nearly pulled out a tough road win. But Seattle flew east for game three already up two wins with just one more to go. The rest is history and the parade is on for Sunday.

Many NBA players took the moment to congratulate the Storm on their championship:

Let's quickly look at the career of young 24-year-old Breanna Stewart. Since winning her first college national championship with dominant UCONN basketball, Stewart has known knothing but winning and winning big. She went on to claim four national titles at UCONN before being drafted No. 1 to Seattle in the 2016 WNBA draft. Two years later, she can now add 2018 WNBA champion as well as 2018 WNBA MVP and 2018 WNBA Finals MVP to her already very impressive resume.

What a career, so far, for one of the most creative passers, deadly shooters, and influential basketball players in Sue Bird. She is the oldest player in the WNBA, the all-time WNBA career assist leader, a 16-year veteran in the league, and now a three-time WNBA champion. Bird scored 14 points in the fourth quarter in just five minutes to round out a win in game one. A miraculous three-point shot with the shot clock winding down in game two to swing the momentum back in the Storm's favor. And one heck of a shoe game partnered with Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving. And she's not done yet.

What a tremendous season and congrats to the Seattle Storm on another WNBA Championship!

 

 

 

 

Storm take a 2-0 series lead in WNBA semifinals

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Seattle Storm

Storm take a 2-0 series lead in WNBA semifinals

It took overtime, but Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm took down the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday, 91-87, to take a commanding 2-0 series lead in the WNBA Semifinals.

Seattle led by as many as 17-points before the Mercury clawed back. Diana Taurisi hit a fade-away three from the corner with 3.6 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 79, but Seattle would regain composure in overtime to walk away with the victory. 

Breanna Stewart led the Storm with 27 points, while Sue Bird chipped in 19 points and six assists. (FULL BOX SCORE)

The series now shifts to Phoenix where it is do or die for the Mercury. The WNBA Semifinals are a best of five series, so the Strom just need one win to advance.

Game Three is scheduled for Friday at Talking Stick Resort Arena, tipoff is set for 7:00 pm. You can watch all the action live on ESPNews & NBA TV.