Live from Press Row - Championship Celebration
The parade portion of tonight's festivities is complete. Storm players, coaches and members of Force 10 Hoops LLC rode from the Space Needle to KeyArena in the backs of Subarus provided by Carter Subaru, allowing them to stay dry. Despite the rain, fans lined 1st Ave. N as the Storm neared KeyArena, where players disembarked to walk down a red carpet into the Key while high-fiving fans on either side. Now, fans have begun to pour into KeyArena in preparation for the formal portion of tonight's ceremonies. About half the lower bowl is fool, which means nearly 5,000 Storm fans have turned out for tonight's event - a terrific turnout. Stay tuned as we keep those of you who could not make it up to date on the proceedings.
Local Politicians Support the Storm
A number of key local politicians have turned out tonight to support the Storm. They're the first people out on the floor, followed by the members of Force 10 Hoops LLC, the Storm's ownership group. Emcee Shellie Hart has been encouraging the fans to make noise while they wait for the Storm players and coaches to take the court.
With a game atmosphere, including intro music and Matt Pitman on PA (emphasizing North Carolina not unlike Chicago Bulls PA Announcer Ray Clay introducing Michael Jordan), the Storm's roster has been introduced to thunderous applause. The biggest hands were saved for Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, the last two players out. Both Storm stars, the last two players left from the Storm's 2004 championship team, carried one of the Storm's two championship trophies.
Bryant Credits Fans
Storm CEO Karen Bryant started our speeches. Bryant thanked the Storm's sponsors and the team employees before turning her attention to the fans.
"These trophies to my left belong to you," said Bryant, saying fans played a key role in the championship. The team's record at KeyArena is testament to that. "We did not lose a game in this building this season," she said, drawing a standing ovation from not only fans but also players and coaches.
After Seattle Center Executive Director Robert Nellams presented the Storm with a token congratulating the Storm as the WNBA champions, Force 10 Hoops LLC Chairperson Dawn Trudeau took over at the podium. Her message? How the group of four women that owns the Storm took a risk in purchasing the team based on the support they believed they would get from the community. Those expectations have been surpassed by the fans.
"Although KeyArena is the toughest place to play in the league, you're starting to make an impact in other peoples' arenas too," joked Trudeau.
"We couldn't be more grateful and we couldn't be more thankful," she concluded.
The state of Washington, King County and city of Seattle all delivered proclamations honoring the Storm.
Secretary of State Sam Reed, presenting on behalf of Gov. Chris Gregoire (who is in China and was unable to attend) proclaimed Sept. 17, 2010 as "Seattle Storm Day" in Washington state.
Up next, King County Executive Dow Constantine broke script with the actual text of the proclamation, joking, "Whereas, I just got Lauren Jackson to sign my T-shirt!" before proclaiming Sept. 17, 2010 to be "Seattle Storm Championship Day" in King County and inviting all the residents of King County to "join me in celebrating this great team."
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn was joined on stage by three members of the Seattle City Council - Tim Burgess, Jean Godden and Bruce Harrell. He said he was going to "one-up" the other elected officials and did just that, making it not just Storm Day but "Storm season in Seattle."
Storm broadcasters Dick Fain and Adia Barnes have taken over as emcees. Dick and Adia have introduced a pair of videos (one featuring Lauren Jackson's interview after the record-setting win over Tulsa and one highlighting the first two rounds of the playoffs) in addition to conducting Q&As.
Bird and Cash on the Championship
Two of the Storm's veteran leaders spoke to Dick and Adia. Sue Bird said her second championship has been better than her first, in 2004.
"Something about the second one feels very satisfying," she said, referencing the Storm's first-round exits in the intervening five years. "To get back on top, to do it with the owners, to do it with the fans, has been truly amazing."
Cash said that her next championship is always the sweetest, so she's hoping next year is very sweet. Cash emphasized a similar note to the one she sounded in the locker room after Game 3 about the Storm's mentality.
"So selfless," she said. "You come up with the ultimate goal, and that's a championship."
Cash also thanked the Storm's practice players for their role in helping the team each day.
The third video tonight was highlights from the 2010 WNBA Finals. At the conclusion, after Angel McCoughtry and Kelly Miller missed their three-pointers, confetti began falling from the KeyArena rafters while Queen's "We Are the Champions" played on the loudspeakers. Pandemonium among the fans.
The consensus from Camille Little: "I'm so happy."
Ashley Robinson had a great line: "I think the confetti falling on our heads today is a result of everybody filling their role."
Dick and Adia saved the Finals (and regular-season MVP) for last, with Lauren Jackson finally answering questions.
"We were definitely thinking about you guys last night," said Jackson. "It definitely would have been better to win it here, but ... it wasn't."
Stanky Legg Promise Fulfilled
When this whole Stanky Legg phenomenon first took off, Storm Head Coach Brian Agler promised that if the team won the championship, he would do the Stanky Legg at center court. The time came to fulfill that promise tonight, and with some help from Storm players Svetlana Abrosimova, Swin Cash, Ashley Robinson and Le'coe Willingham, Coach Agler showed off his favorite dance move. Agler has been a great sport about this whole thing, and he could definitely enjoy it tonight.
Crowd Encourages Free Agents to Return
While Brian Agler was speaking, a fan behind us yelled "Keep the team together." Agler used the opportunity to get the fans here at KeyArena to show some love to the impending free agents on the roster - starting forwards Swin Cash and Camille Little and reserves Svetlana Abrosimova, Ashley Robinson and Jana Vesela. He asked each player to stand up and receive a loud ovation from fnas who would love to see each return.
To wrap up tonight's schedule of events, Storm players are taking photographs with the trophies in front of fans in multiple sections of the arena. Despite the rain, tonight was a lot of fun, and I hope you enjoyed it whether you could make it out to KeyArena or not.
Our celebration of the championship continues this weekend. On Sunday, the Seattle Mariners will be hosting Storm Championship Day at Safeco Field. The Storm will throw out the first pitch and fans can purchase a $15 View Reserved ticket or a $30 Field Seat that includes a special Storm T-shirt. Visit mariners.com/storm for tickets. Also, fans wearing Storm gear can get discounted admission to the Woodland Park Zoo on Saturday and Sunday.
Stay tuned for continuing coverage of the 2010 WNBA champions from stormbasketball.com.