Sept. 19 -- Storm guard Sue Bird has accomplished a tremendous amount in just two seasons: All-Star Games, two First-Team All-WNBA selections, an Olympic gold medal. After teaming up with fellow superstar Lauren Jackson to lead the Storm to their best record in franchise history, Bird is gearing up for yet for another quest: the 2004 WNBA Championship.
Q. After just finishing up the best regular season in Storm history, how confident
is the team heading into the playoffs?
Thumbs up for the Storm
with Bird running the show.
"We are pretty confident. The last month has been a real learning experience for
us because we had been doing really well, but we are something like 3-6 in September.
We had to play without Lauren and make up for some other things as we went along,
but we won the games that we needed to win. I think we have a lot of confidence
because of that heading into the playoffs."
Q. With a week of practice to prepare for the Lynx, how will you and the team
"We had a game yesterday and today off, so I haven't even begun to think about
them just yet. But Minnesota is a team that has been down and out because they
are missing Katie Smith, but
at the same time, they really pulled it together and are really playing well
as a team. They beat us very recently, but this is a team that we have played
three times already and know pretty well. In this league, it is all about execution.
We are really comfortable with our game plan."
Q. You had a brief experience with the Playoffs in 2002. What do you remember
about that and what have you learned since?
"That was a crazy season because we had to win something like seven out of our
last eight or nine games just to qualify. And we did. We finished fourth and
no one expected us to do it. It was really exciting and the fan support in Seattle
was tremendous. We were selling out the arena and it was pretty crazy. You are
seeing it again now. We have a better team and more people are starting to come.
Making the playoffs is a good thing for our franchise. In my first time back
in '02, we didn't really get very far, so everyone who is on the team that was
on it then remembers that and wants to do even better."
Q. Many other teams had to fight to get into the playoffs while the Storm
had an easier time. Do you now need to refocus a little bit on the task at
"It's tough because we didn't really have a good month as far as our record
goes, so we have been trying to refocus the entire time. I definitely think
this week of practice is going to help us."
Q. As someone who has won at virtually every level from high school and
college to the Olympics, where would a WNBA title rank?
Bird is the all-time leading
scorer for Seattle in the playoffs.
Ray Amati/NBAE/Getty Images
"It would be pretty high up there. This is the best league in the world. All
of the championships are different, from college to the WNBA to the Olympics.
Different people, settings and ways of winning. In college, the NCAA Tournament
is a one-and-done situtation, so you have to play your best game six times.
The Olympics has pool play, then an elimination tournament. The WNBA is a bit
different because it has 'best-of' series. You have to bring your best game
to the floor several times a round just to advance. For me, it is all about
the people I'm around and playing with. I was really close to the group in college,
the Olympics was fun because it is the best players in the world, while the
WNBA is great because I really love my teammates. So it's hard to rank them."
Q. After playing a lot of basketball this year, how are the legs holding
"I think these next few days off will be good for me to get my legs back. I
didn't get that much playing time in Athens, so it was mostly the travel that
tired me out. But I feel pretty good."
Q. As a fan of the game do you have any playoff predictions or things to
watch for in general?
"Honestly, it's so hard. I don't know who to pick or what to say. Connecticut
is really good and you have to be careful with them, obviously -- they won the
East. Detroit is the defending champion, and I think getting into the playoffs
for them was a bit of a relief, especially since they lost Swin
Cash, who is their best player. It is a new season now for them, and they
will want to prove themselves all over again. Washington is playing so well
now, so there are a lot of scenarios. As for the West, you know who I'm going
Q. You have a new book that you wrote for kids called Be Yourself, which
is in bookstores now. Do you think if the Storm follow that as a motto,
they'll be in good shape to win the championship?
"(Laughs) Yeah. If everyone plays together, then yes. Individually, we are one
of the most talented teams. Collectively, when we bring it together, we are
one of the best teams in the league as well. So yes, if everyone plays their game and are themselves out there on the court, I think we'll be cool."