It’s tough to say that things haven’t clicked yet for the Storm’s Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird.
Together for nine seasons, and nearly their entire careers (aside from Jackson’s rookie year in 2001), the two have terrific chemistry. With 12 all-star appearances (seven for Jackson, and five for Bird) and a WNBA Championship between them, their prolonged success as a pair is quite impressive, something not matched often in pro sports today.
But that lone championship came in 2004, and has since been followed by five conference semifinals losses.
The Storm are hungry for a title once again. The team, which holds a league-leading record at 9-2, held a five game winning streak before having it snapped Thursday by the Indiana Fever.
The team will have its work cut out for it as it looks to resume its winning ways, going up against MVP candidate Cappie Pondexter and Liberty in New York Friday night.
Although providing a tough matchup, it has not been smooth sailing for the Liberty. After acquiring Pondexter prior to the season, the team was expected to experience more of the same success the Storm has had thus far. Widely viewed as a title contender, the team started off 2-4 before winning two games to reach .500. After another loss to the Washington Mystics, the Liberty are looking to even their record up once again.
Despite the Liberty’s bumpy ride, neither Jackson nor Bird is ready to disregard them as a threat.
“They’ve got a really good team,” says Jackson. “Cappie [Pondexter] obviously brings a whole other dimension to the team. You can tell they are starting to roll now (after the two wins), but we are going to focus and hopefully come out with a win.”
“It’s going to be a very tough game for us,” added Bird. “They have a great mix of players who have won championships. And Cappie brings so much more to their team. I think they are just going to keep getting better and will be dangerous.”
The Storm’s dynamic duo includes two of the league’s most talented players and even an MVP candidate of their own, even if she doesn’t want to acknowledge that recognition just yet.
During a recent interview, Jackson was extremely modest about being included in the MVP discussion with Pondexter and Diana Taurasi at all, Bird had no problem acknowledging how lucky she felt to play with the “best player in the world” and that Jackson “should be number one” in the MVP race right now.
Friday night’s matchup is a homecoming of sorts for Bird, who grew up and played her high school basketball in Long Island, New York.
“The minute the schedule comes out [for that game], I immediately get started on making plans. It’s always great to come back home. I’m really excited.”
If the Storm can bounce back from their loss against the Fever and beat the talented Liberty, it will prove resilience. It may also show that this Storm team is different from the ones that have lost in the Conference Finals in years past.
With Candace Parker now out for the season, if Jackson can stay healthy, she could very well finish with the best all-around season in the WNBA. Bird is leading the league in assists, averaging a career-high 6.7. That number undoubtedly correlates to Jackson’s uncanny ability to finish on the offensive end.
Frankly, if Seattle’s dynamic duo can carry its success through the rest of the season, they very well may end up taking the rest of the league, well, “by storm.”
The Storm take on the Liberty at Madison Square Garden on Friday night at 7:30EST.