Not surprisingly, the Storm’s Big Three, which is comprised of Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd, were selected as WNBA All-Stars on Wednesday.
Bird extended her league record to 12 All-Star appearances while Stewart and Loyd are making their third trip.
Seattle’s three All-Stars, who were selected for the U.S. women’s national team that’s heading to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, will play with Team USA against a collection of WNBA 2021 All-Stars on July 14 at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.
The 17th WNBA All-Star Game will be broadcast live at 4 p.m. PT on ESPN.
“It’s amazing what those three represent not only for themselves, but for our organization (and) obviously having the ability to represent our country,” Storm coach Noelle Quinn said. “I am honored to be a part of the day to day with them. I understand why they’re All-Stars because of the work that they put in and who they are and how passionate they are about their craft. … It’s a testament to them and the work they put in.”
This is the first time the WNBA has selected All-Stars during an Olympic year.
The league didn’t hold an All-Star Game in 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012, or 2016 because of the condensed the scheduling to accommodate either Summer Olympic Games or FIBA World Championships.
And in 2020 the league WNBA did not select All-Stars due to a condensed 22-game regular-season schedule as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s obviously an honor,” Stewart said. “Every All-Star is special, but to be able to be named an All-Star in an Olympic year is something that the WNBA should have always had. If you look at the numbers, it’s completely messed up. But I’m looking forward to it.”
Bird, the league’s oldest player at 40, headlines the list of 12 WNBA All-Stars who were announced Wednesday morning.
The 18-year-veteran point guard is averaging 10.9 points and 6.1 assists, which ranks third in the WNBA. She’s also shooting 48.8% from the field and 42.9% on three-pointers.
“She should have like probably 18 or something. I don’t even know what the number is,” Stewart said. “Even with the bubble last year, there was no All-Star, which I thought sucked because we’re still playing. Name it Bubble All-Star or whatever, but Sue should have way more than what she has.”
Meanwhile, Stewart is gunning for her second MVP — she won the award in 2018.
The Storm superstar is second in the league in scoring (21.8 points), second in rebounds (10.1) and second in blocks (1.9) while leading Seattle to a WNBA-best 12-4 record.
Loyd was in the MVP conversation at the start of the season before her production has tailed off a bit lately. Still, she’s averaging 18.6 points, 4.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals.
“I’ve always thought every year I want to come in and be better than the year before,” said Loyd, who becomes just the fourth Storm with three WNBA All-Star Game appearances joining Bird, Stewart and Lauren Jackson. “And I’m just trying to do my part. The more experience you have in this league, the more you feel comfortable in this league. That’s kind of where I’m at in general. Now I’m a vet on the team. They expect me to be consistent in all aspects and that’s where I’m at now.”
The 2021 WNBA All-Star team includes: Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones, DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones; Las Vegas’ Liz Cambage and Dearica Hamby; Chicago’s Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot and Kahleah Copper; New York’s Betnijah Laney; Dallas’ Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally; and Atlanta’s Courtney Williams.
WNBA legends Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson will coach the All-Stars against Team USA.
In addition to Bird, Stewart and Loyd, the U.S. women’s national team includes Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson and Chelsea Gray; Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith; Washington’s Tina Charles and Ariel Atkins; Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles and Napheesa Collier.
Every member of the U.S. women’s national team was also chosen as a 2021 WNBA All-Star.
The All-Stars were determined through a combination of votes from fans (50% of the vote), current WNBA players (25%) and a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters (25%).
The top 36 vote-getters (who will comprise at least nine backcourt and 15 frontcourt players) from that voting process who are not members of the USA Basketball 5×5 roster, were provided to WNBA coaches who determined from that list, the 12 players participating for the Team WNBA All-Stars versus the USA Basketball Women’s National Team.