Aja Wilson got 29 points, Kelsey May Added 16 in the final minute, including a clutch 3-pointer, and vegas ace Ruined the last regular-season home game Subard beat Seattle storm Sunday 89-81.
The largest crowd in Storm history packed the Climate Pledge Arena to thank Bird for his 20 years as the face of the team and one of the best women’s basketball players of all time.
But the Aces were reluctant to play their part in securing Bird’s final victory. Wilson dominated the first three quarters, Chelsea Gray and Jackie Young both scored 15 points, and the Aces never trailed the final 28 minutes.
Breanna Stewart had a season-high 35 points and Tina Charles had 19. Bird had nine points, six assists and four rebounds, but the result was much like her first game in Seattle 20 years ago — a loss.
“I’m not gonna lie, it was kind of bad to lose my last game. But you know what, I also lost my first game. So that’s okay,” Bird joked to the crowd after the final game Say.
The results are important and not in the same breath. Seattle and Las Vegas are both vying for playoff spots, and for the Storm, the loss was a blow to their chances of having home-court advantage in the first round of the WNBA playoffs. The Aces have been hoping to catch Chicago for the No. 1 seed in the final week.
But playoff positions are entirely secondary to the focus of the day.
Bird is the WNBA’s assist and game record holder. Whenever the season ends, Bird will retire with five Olympic gold medals and at least four WNBA titles to tie in with the two titles she won at the University of Connecticut.
Las Vegas coach Becky Hammon, who faced Bird in the first WNBA game on May 30, 2002, said: “It’s been so good for so long. A lot of people have 9 to 10 years of great performance. She’s been amazing for decades, which is amazing to me.”
With all the festivities going on, Bird wasn’t sure how she’d be feeling before the game. She seemed surprised as she left the locker room for a pregame warm-up on the court, her family lined up in the hallway and fiancée Megan Rapinoe the last to catch the ball.
An overwhelming wave appeared to hit her in a video tribute ahead of the unveiling, including from Rapinoe, LeBron James, Russell Wilson, Chloe King, Lauren Jackson and Bird message from college coach Gino Olema, and cheers from the 18,100 in attendance. Biggest crowd at Storm’s home game.
“We all know you’re not leaving. I look forward to your next move,” Auriemma said.
For now, Bird’s next move is to make sure the Storm are playing again at their home. Seattle is currently fourth in the standings, and with the WNBA’s new playoff format, if Seattle can maintain that position, it will finally host the first two games of the first-round series in the playoffs.
Seattle is without head coach Noel Quinn after she tested positive for COVID-19 and complied with the league’s health and safety protocols.
The Associated Press reports.
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