The Seattle Storm won the WNBA championship in dominant fashion on Tuesday, capping a sweep of the Las Vegas Aces in the Finals with a 92-59 Game 3 victory.
It marked the second championship in three seasons for Seattle and the fourth in franchise history, all since 2004.
Eleven-time All-Star point guard Sue Bird has been there for all of them. Breanna Stewart secured Finals MVP honors, but Bird remains a team leader at 39 years old and averaged 10.4 points and 9.6 assists during Seattle’s postseason run to the title.
Where does Bird rank in Seattle sports history?
Her resume, which also includes four Olympic Gold medals, prompted a question to Storm head coach Gary Kloppenburg after Tuesday’s victory. Is she the best Seattle sports athlete of all time?
Kloppenburg’s answer was an emphatic yes. It came with a hefty side of media critique.
"Is Sue Bird the greatest Seattle sports athlete of all time?"
"Oh yeah ... The women's game hasn't gotten the respect and it is partly because of the white guys that are writing those columns."pic.twitter.com/0sNDx9BBgR
— Dunk Bait (@DunkBait) October 7, 2020
“Oh yeah,” Kloppenburg said. “I don’t know what’s going on up there with those columnists. They all need to take notice, I think. ... To think of what she’s done through a couple of decades, it’s really unprecedented.
“The other side of that is the women’s game hasn’t gotten the respect — and partly because of the white guys that are writing those type of columns. Y’all white guys wake up out there. You’ve got a whole tremendous gender that can flat-out play basketball.”
Debate ignited by Seahawks columnist
Kloppenburg’s message appears to be a response to Seattle Times columnist Bob Condotta. Condotta, who covers the Seahawks, recently tweeted this praise of quarterback Russell Wilson, who is in the midst of mounting an NFL MVP campaign.
Struggling to think of any athlete in Seattle pro sports history who played better than Russell Wilson is right now.
— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) October 4, 2020
Condotta published his tweet on a Sunday that saw the Seahawks improve to 4-0 as Wilson tallied his league-leading 16th touchdown alongside two interceptions.
That same Sunday, Bird recorded 16 points and 10 assists as the Storm took a 2-0 lead in the Finals.
Some took issues with Condotta’s take in his replies, Minnesota women’s basketball coach and five-time WNBA All-Star Lindsay Whalen included.
— Lindsay Whalen (@Lindsay_13) October 5, 2020
Others pointed to another icon of Seattle sports.
Griffey homers in 8 straight games.
— Danny O'Neil (@dannyoneil) October 4, 2020
There are surely some Seattle sports fans who would make a case for Sonics Hall of Fame point guard Gary Payton. Or Bird’s teammate on two of those championship teams and three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson.
Kloppenburg didn’t settle this newly hatched Seattle sports debate on Tuesday. But he made sure that Bird got the respect she deserves in the conversation.
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