As the final seconds ticked away on the WNBA’s most unusual season inside of a bubble, ESPN announcer Ryan Ruocco summed it up best when he said: “In the year we will never forget, the Seattle Storm are the team we will always remember.”
Over the past three months, the Storm has provided more than a handful of memorable moments during its championship run to a fourth WNBA title.
We watched every play and every game and compiled in order what we consider to be the top 10 highlights of Seattle’s remarkable season.
Top 10 Storm moments in 2020
10. Who did it better? Whitcomb or Canada?
The setup: Aside from Alysha Clark’s and Jewell Loyd’s game-winners, the winner of the most memorable play just might be a tie between Seattle’s standout reserves. Sami Whitcomb, a three-point specialist, showcased her long-range marksmanship while draining a 41-footer as time expired in the third quarter during a 95-72 victory over Connecticut on Aug. 16. Meanwhile, Jordin Canada dazzled fans with a half-court bounce pass between two defenders late in the second quarter of Seattle’s 93-92 triumph against Atlanta on Aug. 6.
What they said: “You guys don’t get to see it, but Sami does that all the time in practice. We have these competitions to see who can make it from half-court and she wins a lot.” – Clark.
9. Loyd scores big, but Storm falls short
The setup: Jewell Loyd had never been better than she was Aug. 20 while scoring a career-high 35 points. However, the Storm had its nine-game winning streak snapped in the 90-84 defeat against Indiana. Loyd connected on 12 of 19 field goals, including 3 of 6 three-pointers. She also sank 8 of 9 free throws and had four steals in 35 minutes. Only Breanna Stewart and Lauren Jackson have scored more points in Storm history.
What they said: “She can really score. Unfortunately, we didn’t give her enough support.” – Coach Gary Kloppenburg.
8. So many threes
The setup: The Storm put the WNBA on notice with a league-record-tying 18 three-pointers to overwhelm a shorthanded and overmatched Atlanta team 100-63 on Aug. 12. Whitcomb put on a show while draining a career-high-tying six three-pointers, including five in the fourth quarter. She finished with 20 points and shared game-high scoring honors with Loyd, who sank four three-pointers. Sue Bird added three three-pointers and Morgan Tuck two. Stewart, Clark and Canada also had one.
What they said: “When you see a couple go down early, that makes the whole team kind of feel good. When we get that three-ball going, it makes us very dangerous.” – Whitcomb.
7. Wounded Bird hobbles through season
The setup: Bird stubbed her toe on the court and tumbled to the court early in the second half against Minnesota on July 28. It was an ugly fall, but at the time it didn’t appear to be troublesome considering she returned to help polish off the Lynx 90-66 and played two days later. However, the 39-year-old veteran suffered a bone bruise to her surgically repaired left knee and missed the next five games. Following a four-game playing stint, Bird felt knee soreness and missed the next four games. After another four-game stretch, Bird collided knees with Satou Sabally and sat out the final two regular-season games. All told, Bird played in just 11 games.
What they said: “I’m not going to sugar coat it. It’s been hard. A lot of ups, a lot of downs.” – Bird.
6. Season tips off in the ‘Wubble’
The setup: The WNBA season began July 25 with the Storm’s 87-71 victory over New York. It was an emotional return for Stewart and Bird, who sat out 2019 due to season-ending injuries. It also was the unveiling of uniforms worn by every WNBA player with Breonna Taylor’s name on the back to bring awareness to the 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician who was killed by Louisville police.
What they said: “Today and this season is about honoring Breonna Taylor’s life and it’s about bring awareness to the fact that her murderers have not been brought to justice.” – Bird.
5. Days of reflection
The setup: The season abruptly came to a halt Aug. 26 when WNBA players initiated a two-day work stoppage following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin. All 144 players participated in a late-night candlelight vigil and gathered for an unprecedented photo shoot in which everyone linked arms as a sign of unity. Games resumed Aug. 28.
What they said: “We needed a day to be with each other, try to find things to laugh about and be a joy to each other’s lives, but also understand that it’s real outside the bubble.” – Canada.
4. A historic thrashing for title No. 4
The setup: Seattle throttled Las Vegas 92-59 in the most lopsided victory in finals history in Game 3 to clinch the series and secure the Storm’s fourth title in franchise history. Stewart essentially put the game away while scoring 12 of her game-high 26 points in the third quarter when the Storm outscored the Aces 32-14, which turned a nine-point halftime lead (43-34) into a laugher. Loyd added 19 points, Canada 15 and Clark 10. Bird set a finals record with 33 assists, including seven in Game 3.
What they said: “To be able to be in this position right now, tonight, it’s special, man. I can’t even believe — I can’t even believe I’m sitting here a two-time champ. Like this is amazing.” – Clark.
3. Record-breaking night
The setup: The Storm didn’t win the WNBA title in Game 1 of the finals, but it sure seemed like it on a record-breaking night that resulted in a 93-80 blowout victory over No. 1-seed Las Vegas. Stewart finished with a career playoff-high 37 points — two shy of her personal best — and 15 rebounds, which was the first time a player had those numbers in the finals. Stewart outscored the Aces 15-13 in the fourth quarter, including 11 consecutive points to start the period. Meanwhile, Bird set a playoff record with 16 assists and Loyd tallied 28 points.
What they said: “I was on the floor when Lauren (Jackson) dropped (47 points). I was there for that. But in a playoff game, in a finals game and to have a performance like that is next level.” – Bird.
2. Loyd drains a dagger at the buzzer
The setup: Down two points with 0.8 seconds left, the Storm needed a miracle and Loyd delivered one of the most clutch shots in franchise history. Loyd tight-roped the sideline before draining a corner three-pointer over a defender while falling out of bounds to give Seattle an improbable 90-89 victory over Los Angeles on Sept. 4.
What they said: “I knew it was good. I practice those shots all the time. … I knew once it left my hands it looked good. My teammates were already yelling. It felt good and I’m glad I hit the shot.” – Loyd.
1. AC pulls it out
The setup: Tied in the final seconds, Alysha Clark collected an offensive rebound in traffic and rushed up a contested putback that beat the buzzer and the No. 4-seed Minnesota 88-86 in Game 1 of the WNBA semifinals. It was the closest No. 2 Seattle came to losing in the postseason. The Storm won the next five games by an average of 18 points to sweep the best-of-five series in the semifinals and finals.
What they said: “We played against a team that was peaking and we had to figure some things out because we were kind of the opposite of peaking. But we did. That’s what championship teams do. They find ways. That’s why my face looked the way it did when AC hit that game-winner in Game 1 because I knew where we were as a team.” – Bird