SEATTLE, Oct. 11 -- It shouldn't be difficult for the Seattle Storm and Connecticut Sun to find motivation when they take the floor for Game 3 on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2). After all, a title is what they play for.
However, remembering both "the little things" as well as the bigger picture can be a challenge when fatigue has set in and the legs are cramping in the waning minutes of an overtime game. So after a 34-game regular season, seven postseason games, tens of thousands of miles traveled and four months of intense physical and mental pressure, inspiration can come from all places.
Jackson has additional motivation as she prepares for Game 3.|
(Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images)
Including your sneakers.
Which is why so many players from the Storm, the Sun and from teams across the league write personal messages on their sneakers. For some, it could be just a reminder, while others use the blank canvas of their white basketball shoes to quote a biblical passage or write their children's names.
For Storm forward and 2003 WNBA MVP Lauren
Jackson, it could serve multiple purposes. After her grandmother passed
away in September, she wrote the name Rene across her right instep in permanent
black marker. Also inscribed across the front toe of each of her sneakers are
some reminders on how Jackson should player her game. "Be Just" and "Fear Not."
"That lets me know that I should just go out there and play, to do what I can do, be aggressive," Jackson said.
She last updated the message upon returning from the Olympic break.
"Sometimes I find myself looking down at my shoes during a game if I am bent over or just thinking about a play," she said. "Every season, I have put something different on them, things like 'have fun' and be aggressive."
Her teammate, forward Simone
Edwards, also has some serious and meaningful notes on her sneakers. To
show that her native country of Jamaica is in her thoughts and prayers after
the devastating effects of recent hurricanes, she has "God bless Jamaica" and
"For all the lives lost in the hurricane" on both shoes.
"After Hurricane Ivan, I was really worried about my family and the rest of the island," Edwards said. "Luckily my family was all right, but there were many homes that were destroyed and the devastation was widepsread. This just helps me keep them in my heart."
She also has an "LJ 15" tribute to Lauren and her grandmother.
Guard Betty Lennox, the
Storm's Game 2 hero, is deeply religious and has a quote from the Bible on her
Edwards looks at her sneakers during a game for inspiration.|
(Matt Wurst/NBAE Photos)
"It has been on my shoes all season. It is down there for a purpose, because I am looking down there all the time," Lennox said. "It gives me encouragement, so I had to find the right words to look at."
Fewer Connecticut Sun have messages on their shoes, but one who does is All-Star
who has the names of her children on her sneakers. She finds it comforting to
know that they are with her at all times.
But not everyone looks to their sneakers for inspiration.
"My inspiration is my teammates. That is who I am playing with and playing
for," Sue Bird said. "That's
what' it's all about for me."
Sun rookie Lindsay Whalen
has not yet gotten around to putting a message on her shoes, either. However, if
she did have a Sharpie and some free time on her hands, she would get creative.
"I think I would put something like 'DJ Whay' for life," she joked. "Or maybe
it would say 'R.A.F.N.', for 'Respect All, Fear None.' I find inspiration from
within. All I need is to know that we are playing for a championship."
Whalen's teammate and pseudo-mentor Debbie
Black, whose fierce and fearless play is an inspiration in and of itself,
but she also has yet to find the right words to put on her sneakers.
"I know that fans and hecklers give me a hard time when I am on the road, but our team never quits, which is what I told someone in the crowd in Game 2," Black said. "I can't help but play to the crowd, so I turned around and said 'We won't go away." I repeated it a few times. 'We won't go away. So maybe I'll have a new message for everyone for Game 3 because as a player, I never go away, and as a team, we never go away."
Once that message is written in permanent marker, it will never go away either. And neither will the memories of winning a WNBA championship.