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Bird, Jackson Moved by All-Decade Honors

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Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com | June 13, 2006
Sue Bird has learned her lesson. While at UConn, the Seattle Storm's point guard would not usually tell her parents about the awards she won, including the Naismith Player of the Year, the Wade Trophy and the Senior CLASS Award, leading mother Nancy to admonish Bird that she looked foolish when friends would ask her about her daughter's latest honor.

So when Bird learned Tuesday that she, along with Storm teammate Lauren Jackson, had been named to the WNBA's 10-player All-Decade Team, Bird's first calls were to her mother and a surprised father Herschel.

"He was surprised slash excited slash ... surprised," said Bird.


"It's very exciting. I'm so happy. I'm also humbled by it because I know there were people who weren't able to be on that list."
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty
"He was really happy, happy for me more than anything. I think he was surprised, because my dad is into this. He's aware and he knows that it was really difficult to make this. He knows. He was like, 'Yeah, good job. You should be happy.'"

She is. Neither Bird nor Jackson have ever been as wowed by awards or individual honors as by winning and chasing WNBA Championships, but there is a definite sense with the players that this is special. There is a greater sense of history as the WNBA looks back on the first 10 years of the league's history and recognizes its pioneering stars.

"This is one of those points in a person's career where you've got to go, 'Wow, I'm being recognized for doing something that I love doing,'" said Jackson, the only foreign member of the All-Decade Team. "'My goals are finally being recognized by myself and others and it's pretty awesome.'"

"You look at the list and there are people who have done incredible things for not only the WNBA but women's basketball across the world," said Bird. "They're the reason I'm able to play in the U.S. in a professional league. It's very exciting. I'm so happy. I'm also humbled by it because I know there were people who weren't able to be on that list."

What makes it particularly remarkable that Bird and Jackson are being honored alongside players like Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson is their youth. Both 25, Bird and Jackson are the youngest players on the squad, and, along with Indiana's Tamika Catchings, two of the three to enter the WNBA since the year 2000.

"It's absolutely incredible to think about these two youngsters being on the All-Decade Team," said Storm Coach Anne Donovan.

AUDIO
In Minnesota, Bird, Jackson and Donovan spoke about the honor of being named to the All-Decade Team.
For Bird in particular, her relative inexperience was seen as a potential obstacle to making the All-Decade Team. Instead, voters opted to reward the perennial excellence that has seen Bird make the All-WNBA First Team in each of her four seasons thus far, one of only two players (along with fellow All-Decade pick Cynthia Cooper) to do so.

"To pick 10 players in the WNBA's 10 years, the top 10 players, there's so many different avenues you could have gone," said Bird. "I've only played five years. Fortunately, I do have a championship - I know that helped. It just depends - on-court versus off the court versus years played. Someone like Diana Taurasi [who was chosen as an honorable mention] - you're telling me if she didn't have five years under her belt, she wouldn't be on that list? You're probably crazy. There's so many ways that could have been chosen, so the fact that I was chosen - I'm very excited, very happy, but also humbled, because I know it could have gone either way."

Bird hoped she had a better chance because there were no sure things at her point-guard position and many voters felt the team would have been incomplete without a point guard. In the end, two of them made the team - Bird and her Team USA mentor, Dawn Staley of the Houston Comets.

The fact that Bird and Jackson were able to make the team together made the honor much sweeter for them than it would have been had they alone been selected. Both players also gave credit to each other for making them look better.

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"I probably wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Sue," Jackson said. "She's just been so awesome to play with. I'm just so fortunate to be playing with her and that we both got to make it together. I'm so happy."

"I've had the opportunity to play with all the players I've played with on the Storm - obviously, especially Lauren," said Bird. "They've made me the player I am. They've gotten me to this point. I've always felt that way."

As excited as Bird and Jackson were to find out they made the All-Decade Team, they might not have matched the joy their coach took in hearing the news.

"We talked about it as a group before practice started," said Donovan. "This is something that's really special. I think they both recognize it - by the looks on their face, they recognize it. I want to make sure they know from me how proud I am of it, because, like I said, it's very, very special."