And now, 14 years after the initial celebration, Bird is the heart and soul of yet another Seattle team that hugged and mugged and savored the trappings of ultimate victory.
"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".
After trailing 69-53 entering the fourth quarter, the Mystics rallied to within five points at 72-67 on a 3-pointer by Tierra Ruffin-Pratt with 6:49 remaining.
But as they have all series - all season - the Storm had the answers.
Candace Parker, Sparks: An All-WNBA selection for the eighth time, Parker (17.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 4.7 apg) was the only player to reach those averages in points, rebounds and assists this season. Howard and Clark filled in the gaps, as did Crystal Langhorne, Sami Whitcomb and rookie point guard Jordin Canada.
WNBA legend Sue Bird, a teammate of Jackson's for Seattle's two previous championships, turned in a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists.
In the past year Stewart has spoken up about her assault, posed for ESPN's Body Issue (as did Bird) and won both the league and finals MVP trophies.
Stewart had stewed during her first two Storm seasons, unwilling to accept mediocrity after such a storied collegiate and Olympic career.
Seattle is in the WNBA Finals for the third time in franchise history.
Natasha Howard added career-high 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Storm and first-year coach Dan Hughes.
Heroes abounded for the Storm.
"Stewie was just fantastic", Storm coach Dan Hughes said.
Inheriting a team that had finished 15-19 and 16-18 the previous two years, but dripping with talent, he instilled a defensive mindset and placed his trust in the players.
-Turnovers: They've done a great job of taking care of the basketball and had only seven turnovers in game two.
He had a vital accomplice in Bird, as a coach on the court, but still amazingly productive at age 37, who helped will the Storm back to prominence.
The season has not only been her most successful, but her most transformational.
The Storm got their first taste of life without Bird in the semifinals when she broke her nose and had to sit out the remainder of Game 4 against Phoenix. "And when the game is over you go back to being friends". By the time starting center LaToya Sanders sprained her ankle while saving a loose ball, eventually getting carried to the locker room, the game had largely gotten away from Washington.
"We don't want to go [back] to Seattle to play", Stewart said. The nucleus is young and still hungry, except for Bird, who is, well, not so young, but still hungry. "We'll continue to build on that and dissect things and see where we can kind of pick them apart". "Like numerous girls on this team, I grew up idolizing Sue Bird and playing with her is still a little bit surreal. Once we got Stewie and Jewell, we knew we'd get to the other side, but how do you know you're going to get to the other side this fast?"
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