The arrival of hockey has helped blunt the pain of losing an NBA team here in Seattle, but the success of the city’s only current professional basketball team continues to be the most reliable antidote for the residual ache of the Sonics leaving town. While the Storm may not have made their typically deep playoff run this fall, the WNBA's latest campaign gave us plenty of reason—two in particular—to look back on its players’ triumphs over the years.
To commemorate its 25th season, the league announced a list of its 25 greatest players this fall. Based on their impact on and off the court, a mix of 15 retired and 10 current players were selected. Among them were, of course, Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart.
The oldest and youngest all-stars on the list weren’t the Storm's only representation of multigenerational star power, either. Swin Cash, Yolanda Griffith, Lauren Jackson, Katie Smith, Sheryl Swoopes, and Tina Thompson, all former Storm players, made the cut too.
The basketball legends received custom black-and-orange jackets stitched with personalized patches at a playoff game in September. Designed by Stitch Gawd's Emma McKee, Bird’s consisted of a Storm logo and a green-and-yellow nod to her status as the league’s all-time assists leader. Stewie’s paired an upside-down Storm emblem with a callout to her Commissioner’s Cup MVP this season.
The teammates added gold medals to their haul of hoops awards this year, but their ongoing activism also made them easy choices for the list. Both were leaders of the movement to dedicate the 2020 “Wubble” season to Breonna Taylor. Stewart’s work with RAINN helps victims of sexual assault, and all proceeds from her personal store go directly to Black Futures Lab, an organization dedicated to transforming Black communities. Bird, meanwhile, has been named a humanitarian of the year in the past.
Seattle’s GOAT fell short of claiming the greatest-of-all-time title from the league. But WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert describes the W25 as people who have “transformed the way the game is played, changed the way athletes are viewed, become incredible role models, and inspired generations of young, diverse athletes.” And there’s no doubt Bird, and Stewart, have done just that.