Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, a First Team All-WNBA selection in all three of her seasons in the league, is playing overseas in Russia this winter with Dynamo Moscow in the EuroLeague. She departed on January 1 to join her team and will be there with them until the completion of the season sometime in April. She will be checking in and sharing her experiences with WNBA.com twice a month until she returns.


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From Russia With Love: Volume Two
From Russia With Love: Volume One

February 7, 2005, Moscow, Russia: Hello again and welcome to journal entry #3! I am still proud to say that I am not homesick even though I missed a major event this past weekend... the Super Bowl!!!

I am a little disappointed that I missed the big game, but lucky for me I'm not a HUGE football fan. However, the Super Bowl is different because of everything else that surrounds it. The good news is that when I woke up this morning and turned on my computer, I got to see the only two things I would have paid attention to anyway: The winner and the commercials. To all you Patriots fans, Congrats! Eagles fans, at least you got to the Super Bowl this time. Maybe next year :)! I was sad that I missed the halftime show until I found out it was Paul McCartney. Something tells me he doesn't shake it like some of the previous performers, although I bet my mom really liked it :). All this Super Bowl talk leaves me with one burning question though...What ever happened to the Bud Bowl? Now THAT was high quality entertainment!

***

Okay, enough blabbing. Let me get to the important stuff. There have been some major events in the last two weeks with respect to my Dynamo Basketball club. One major event was for me and one was for our team.

Two weeks ago I took my first overnight train ride ever. Not as exciting as one might think, but it was full of surprises and left me with a sore back and a bump on my head. From what I understand, neither is very surprising, but who knew that injuries came with the ticket. Anyway, the sleeper cars on these trains have four beds in every room. Two top bunks and two bottom bunks. The beds are a little smaller than a twin bed in both width and length. When you first get in the room, they just look like some benches, but then the attendants come around and deliver "sheets" and a "mattress." I'm not sure a one-inch pad can really be be called a mattress and the sheets felt more like hay than anything else, but I rolled with the punches on this one.

Do not try this at home, kids. Kamila is a trained professional.
When it comes to choosing your bed, you can immediately tell who is a veteran and who is a rookie. The vets jump to the top bunk as quickly as possible and stake their claim. The ceiling is higher up there meaning more leg room. The rookies, on the other hand, don't know any better, or in my case, are a little scared of the height. Normally, heights don't bother me, but when you are on a bumpy train ride and the only thing between you and rolling over the edge is a bar that is probably 10 inches long and 2 inches high, I'd prefer not to take my chances.

So the bottom bunk it was, only it turned out to be more dangerous that I thought. The train left at 10:30 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive at 7 a.m. the next morning, so it was truly an overnight trip. I came prepared with a book, my iPod and my portable DVD player. Not exactly roughing it, I know. So once I made my bed, I set up my DVD player and crawled into "bed." There was a tiny table in between my bed and the bottom bed on the other side, which, by the way, was occupied by a complete stranger. Weird, I know. Three teammates and a random woman. When she walked into our cabin, I figured she spoke no English and jokingly asked if she could maybe go somewhere else Of course, with my luck, she did speak English.

Anyway, this table was a little higher than eye level when I laid down, so it was perfect for watching the movie. I can't even remember what I planned on watching because I was out cold. I have no idea why I brought so much with me because I think I watched the first 10 minutes of the movie before I passed out. I guess it's better to be prepared like you are going on a 72-hour train ride instead of just an 8 1/2-hour one. Needless to say, my book and my iPod got no love that night. At some point in the night, the the train stopped short, sending my DVD player flying right into my HEAD! Then it hit the ground and woke up everyone in my car, except for Kamila (Vodichkova), of course, who was smart enough put in her ear plugs. Gotta love public transportation!

***

The second major event was our game against Samara. I mentioned in my last journal that Sheryl Swoopes played for this team. Well, I came to learn that they not only have Sheryl, but they also have DeMya Walker, Ann Wauters, Svetlana Abrosimova and Maria Steponova. And those are just the WNBA players. Add three Russian National team members and the starting point guard for the French national team. Yup, this team is STACKED! Very 2004 Los Angeles Lakers! And from the time the jump ball went up until about eight minutes remained in the fourth quarter (yup, they play quarters over here), they were kicking our butts. We were down by 20 points at halftime and their largest lead was 26. We could not stop them! I don't know about anyone else, but I was embarrassed to be losing like that on our home court.

But midway through the final quarter, everything changed. We began to play like we had nothing to lose and they were playing like the game was already over. They couldn't stop Mwadi (Mabika), who had about 13 points in that quarter alone, and when Elena (Baranova) hit a 3-pointer with 1:30 remaining, it was a whole new ball game. It went back and forth after that and we eventually had the last laugh and won by two points! (Editor's note: Sue is too modest to tell you that she hit the game-winner.) I've never seen a coaching staff and management so happy in my life. It felt good to be able to come back and win, but there was obviously something wrong if we were able to go down 20 so easily.

***

If you remember from my last entry, I am still getting used to the cultural differences out here. A week ago, I went out to dinner with Kamila and her boyfriend, Martin. Yes, we went for sushi and, yes, it was delicious. We were only a 25-minute walk away from our apartment but it was so cold out that there was no way we would have made it alive. The next thing I know, Kamila has her thumb out waiting for someone to pick her up. I was like, "Are you crazy! What are you doing?" She simply said that we were going to catch a ride home. So that's exactly what we did. For the first time in my life, I hitchhiked. Sorry mom :( After that night, I began to notice more and more people standing on the side of the road with their thumbs out. I've learned that its pretty common over here in Moscow. I would never do it alone because, to be honest, I don't even know my own address here, but as long as I was with a teammate, everything was just fi... ummm, okay Mom, I promise I won't do it again!

The Dynamo Policeman, is twice as big as I am.
Before I sign off, I absolutely must tell you all about the weather. Now I know it has been cold and a bit snowy back in the States, but we had a little bit of a cold spell of our own last week. MINUS 25 DEGREES CELCIUS! That is degrees -13 Farenheit, people. I cannot even begin to describe how cold that is. The walk from my apartment to the gym takes a total of 2 and 1/2 minutes. Before leaving, I put on thermols, sweatpants, a t-shirt, a long sleeve t shirt, a hooded sweatshirt, my big, red puffy coat, gloves, a hat, long socks and shoes. Even with all of those layers, I still have to run sometimes. The headphone cord for my iPod freezes, and so does my hair if I've just gotten out of the shower. It is like physical pain.

When it's snowing, or right after it has finished snowing, I have to walk around with my hands over my face because the wind blows it right up your nose and into your eyes. But if you are still into snow forts, Moscow is the place to be! The other day, I saw a kid, probably around 8 or 9 years old, making the most amazing snow fort I am ever seen. It had tunnels, it had walls, one part looked like the top of a church, and it even had a secret place to stow snowballs. I mean, this thing was legit! I'm 24 and I was insanely jealous!

Speaking of snow... I have a fun little fact for you. Because it is so cold in Russia, Moscow sends trucks around to pick up the snow after a large storm because it never melts. So you literally see these HUGE 18-wheelers driving around with mounds and mounds of snow in the back. I thought that was interesting. I hope it also paints a picture of just how cold it really is here!

Well, I have to get going or I'll be late for practice! Stay tuned for more next time...

-Sue.

Sue's List of Shout Outs:
1. Stacy Dales-Schuman - Just wanted to say good luck to you in your new career! I look forward to watching you :)
2. Tina Thompson - Congrats on the pregnancy and best of luck to you and Damon as you become mommy and daddy.
3. Dynamo Policeman - Our club is very similar to the Police Athletic League (PAL) in America, which is why we are nicknamed the Policemen. I want to give a shout out to our mascot Stepan Stepanovich (see picture)... He is like 8 feet tall and dances like there is no tomorrow!

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