This was total domination. Bird is the only player to be a member of all three championships won by the Storm. She had always wanted to spend her entire career with one franchise, but the Storm's last championship was in 2010 and before that it was in 2004. "This is probably going to be one of the most defining moments of my career", Bird said Wednesday night.
The Storm did it in style, completing a three-game sweep of the Washington Mystics on Wednesday with a 98-82 win in Fairfax, Virginia.
"We know how great the teams are and how much better we have to be", said Delle Donne, who finished with 23 points. "We still have a ways to go to make this league what we want it to be as players, just to be a professional league that we can be proud of".
"And to see it end like this, it's a dream".
"It doesn't feel real yet, honestly", she said. "I can't believe it". They forgot about their past, which included seven straight playoffs losses on the road and focused entirely on Game 3. Howard capped her breakout season with 29 points (on 11 of 14 shooting) with a game-high 14 rebounds.
"And then your stars have to be who they are". League MVP Breanna Stewart scored 30 points in the victory and was selected Finals MVP after averaging 25.6 points through the three games. This marks the first All-WNBA nods for Cambage and Hayes. I wasn't nervous. I was calm.
"We just rebuilt this team last year bringing in Elena and Kristi, so to be in the Finals in our second year of rebuilding, I mean that's huge", she said. Both Seattle teams were coached by Lenny Wilkens, a regular at Storm games.
But everyone on the delirious Storm side may have been happiest for two people - first-year coach Dan Hughes, and the venerated veteran Bird.
"We had a lot of growing up to do and maturing to do and this group really hasn't played together long as a group, he said".
The Storm outscored the Mystics 26-14 in the second to extend their lead to 46-30 heading into halftime. The Mystics trailed by as many as 18 in the third quarter but clawed within five on a Tierra Ruffin-Pratt 3-pointer with 6:49 left, with Delle Donne scoring or assisting on each basket during an 11-1 run.
What took place on Wednesday night on the campus of George Mason University, in a green-and-yellow arena turned red-and-blue, would have been hard to imagine just two years ago.
She's paired with Stewart, All-Star guard Jewell Loyd, two-time champion Natasha Howard, defensive ace Alysha Clark and a supporting cast that includes Whitcomb and rookie Jordin Canada, Bird's heir apparent.
The championship parade starts 1 p.m. Sunday at Seattle Center and will end at KeyArena. "It was how we countered that when things got close".