In all the ways that are really important, Alysha Clark wasn’t going to lose no matter who won the WNBA Finals.
The Storm forward celebrated her second league championship following Tuesday’s 92-59 blowout in Game 3 over No. 1 seed Las Vegas.
Clark, who won a title with Seattle in 2018, said this one is much sweeter considering the WNBA dedicated this season to Breonna Taylor and the Say Her Name movement, which raises awareness for Black female victims of police violence.
“This one is special, really special,” Clark said during a teleconference call from the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. “This one is special just because of the reason that we were here in the beginning. We wanted to bring awareness and give a voice to the Black women that are often forgotten in this country.
“We are often overlooked and often unheard. This championship was for them and for us. … To be able to come out here tonight and win this, it’s a championship for little Black girls and Black women across this country. I hope each and everyone one of them feel just as victorious in this moment as I do. Because you should. We see you. We hear you. We acknowledge you and your life matters.
“That is what this season was about. To be able to win a championship with that message and with that on our minds, it’s special and really historic. I’m so honored and so thankful to be a part of that.”
Clark thanked and credited Las Vegas’ Angel McCoughtry for the idea that led to WNBA players wearing Taylor’s name on the back of their jerseys in honor of the 26-year-old emergency medical technician who was killed by police in her home on March 13 after a botched drug raid.
Following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the WNBA engaged in a two-day work stoppage to bring even more spotlight on its social justice reform plan.
Toward the end of the season, WNBA players pushed to raise awareness on voter registration.
“We are less than a month away from elections, (the) deadline to register to vote was today but we have a lot more work to continue,” Clark said. “Using our social media platform and platforms that we have like this just speaking to raise awareness to the importance of vote and what comes after this is going to be a continuous fight.
“We’re ready for it and we’re built for it. That’s what the women of this league are made of. We’re built to fight. We’re built to stand up for what is right in this world. And we’re going to continue to do that whether it’s here winning championships or being overseas in these next few months.”
FOR KOBE AND GIGI
In addition to paying tribute to Taylor, Storm guard Jewell Loyd drew inspiration from her mentor Kobe Bryant, the former Los Angeles Laker great who died in a helicopter accident on Jan. 26 with eight others, including his daughter, Gigi.
“This year has been a lot for me,” Loyd said during a postgame televised interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “This is for Kobe, Gigi, the Bryant family and for Breonna Taylor. We had a lot of emotions coming into this game. For me this season, I had to play for him.
“This is my first season without him and so I surrounded myself with people who knew him and I just focused. I love my support staff. I love you guys … Kyrie (Irving), Phil, my parents – they all had my back. It’s very emotional for me.”
Loyd, who averaged 18.3 points in the WNBA Finals, came out in Game 3 decked in a gold version of the Kobe Mamba Fury sneakers.
“It’s the gold shoes knowing that I’m unique,” said Loyd, who finished with 19 points on 9-for-18 shooting, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals. “I’m special. I wore the shoes because of Kobe. His jersey number is everything. He’s the first person that ever believed in me before I got to the league. It’s special.”
— Sue Bird set multiple assist records during the WNBA Finals. Her 33 assists were the highest total of all time and her 16 assists in Game 1 were a league postseason record.
— The Storm is hosting a virtual celebration Friday to commemorate its WNBA championship. The team will release more details Thursday.