For the tenth straight season, the Seattle storm have clinched a playoff berth and are heading into the postseason; a prospect that seemed in dire jeopardy at the beginning of the season as the Storm learned that both of their perennial all-stars would be gone for the season. Much as Payton and Kemp were the leaders and nationally recognized faces of the Seattle Supersonics for so many years in the 90’s, so too are Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird identified with the Seattle Storm as the tandem that have lifted Seattle to so many playoff appearances; not to mention, two championships in 2004 and 2010.
So when Seattle was informed they would be without their two leaders heading into the 2013 season, many fans were panicked that the long tradition of playoff contention would come to a crashing end this season. However, Tina Thompson, the “first lady” of the WNBA and former champion in her early days with the Houston Comets, is in her 17th season, and on the verge of retiring from the sport she loves; She wasn’t so quick to jump to that conclusion.
“We knew before we all got together what we were up against, but we didn’t have any doubts that where we are right now was possible,” said Thompson, “So I think that because we had the same goal, we were all focused on doing that and be in this position that allowed us to be here. I mean of course there are a lot of outside things going on and expectations, or lack of, that people didn’t have for us in the beginning of the season. But again, that’s the outside looking in. We never felt how other people felt, we always thought this was possible.”
Despite their adversity, the Seattle Storm has overcome the odds to clinch yet another playoff berth, and another chance to bring the WNBA championship back to Seattle for a third time. The odds are still stacked against them; in all likelihood, they will have to face Minnesota in the first round, the team with the best record in the league and the reigning Western Conference Champions. The Storm faced the same team last year in the first round of the playoffs and went down in defeat to them in three games; and that was with their two franchise players. In the two times they have faced Minnesota this year, the Storm are 0-2, and it seems unlikely that the Storm will be able to pull out a victory against the Lynx without their two All-Stars, but head coach Brian Agler has been preparing for this since day one and is confident his team can compete.
“We started talking with Camille [Little] and Tanisha [Wright] and Tina [Thompson] about how important their leadership was going to be this year for the success of our team,” said Agler. “We’ve had a strong tradition here of making the playoffs and we want to compete for championships and we just didn’t want to have that go away just because we’re missing two really good players.”
So will Seattle be able to defy the odds again and defeat the Lynx in their road to capturing another trophy; no one can say just yet. But if Seattle has its way, Minnesota might just be heading into a “Storm” from which there is no escape.
By: Keith Ishii