Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Rob Knox's WNBA Report: Seattle's Ageless Sue Bird Plays Like She's Drinking From the Fountain of Youth

By ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)

Proving that age is just a number and a state of mind, Sue Bird’s gorgeous game continues to stand the test of time like a fine merlot.

 Currently leading the WNBA in assists at 7.4 per game, the 36-year-old Bird isn’t showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon. Still zipping around the court like a toddler at recess, Bird is still
performing an elite level and occasionally fracturing fibulas (more on that later).

 Bird has spent her entire career with the Seattle Storm raising the bar of excellence for the point guard position. She has always been about doing whatever the team needs to win.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she’s not concerned with being six assists away from the 2,500-career plateau, a mark only one other WNBA player (Ticha Penicherio) has reached.

 The Sysosett, New York native doesn’t care that she’s 106 assists away from becoming the WNBA’s all-time leader in that sacred statistic. All she knows is that her assists has helped fuel the furnaces burning inside of her teammates and led to plenty of winning, smiling and high-fiving.

 “I don’t think about it unless I get asked questions,” Bird said during Wednesday’s conference call in advance of Thursday’s game at Connecticut at the Mohegan Sun at 8 p.m. on ESPN2. “Becoming the all-time assist leader wasn’t something on my bucket list.

“I guess (being close to achieving that milestone) speaks to longevity and consistency. My only focus has always been to help your team win. I am sure 10 to 15 years from now and if the record stands for that long, then that’s something I’ll look back on and be proud of. Right now, it’s never been part of my day to day mentality.”

 The Storm (6-7 overall) will look to right its ship and recover from its current stretch where it has lost five of its last six games, including a 100-70 loss at Washington on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Sun (6-7) have dropped two straight games after a five-game winning streak.

 The game will match two of the league leaders in their respective categories. While Bird leads the league in assists, second-year Connecticut forward Jonquel Jones, a former George Washington standout, is the current chairwoman of the glass, leading the league in rebounding (12.2 per game).

 In addition, this contest matches two of the best shooting teams in the WNBA. The Sun lead the league in 3-point field goal percentage (43.5). Meanwhile, the Storm are third overall in field goal percentage (46.7).

 It’s one of two key Thursday games as the Mystics (9-5) host the New York Liberty (7-5) at the Verizon Center at 7 p.m. (Guru note: Yours truly will be at Mohegan, SEPTA, NJT,Metro North, Amtrak permitting. Rob will be in Washington.)

Bird, who starred at Connecticut and played with other recent WNBA career-achiever Diana Taurasi,  always looks forward to visiting the Nutmeg State as a professional.

This season, thanks to the schedule makers, this will be the first of two stops in Connecticut. The Storm return on Tuesday, August 8.

 “It’s always a trip along with New York, I circle and look forward to,” Bird said. “I am able to connect with friends and family. I have some great memories here basketball-wise. Everytime I fly into Hartford, you can feel it. The Connecticut fans always say thanks.”

 One day the basketball world will thank Bird for her contributions to the sport once she’s inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield (Mass.). A shrine of brilliance, Bird has done everything possible in the game. She’s a nine-time All-Star, five-time All-WNBA selection, four-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time WNBA champion.

 She led the WNBA in assists last season and is on her way to doing that again. Bird's ball-handling wizardry, leadership, and tenacity have been her hallmarks of enduring excellence.

 Speaking of ball-handling, Bird had a move last year while playing for Team USA against Australia in exhibition in New York that earned her the top play on SportsCenter’s Top 10 following the game.

 Exquisitely executing a two-step, Bird broke the ankles of an Australian defender with Allen Iverson-like ferocity.

 In doing the basketball version of the “Whip and Nae-Nae”, Bird made the Aussie defender wobble, fall down and disappear.

Madison Square Garden shook following that highlight.

That move brought the delighted crowd out of their seats and her fired-up teammates off the bench in appreciation.

 The Sun will celebrate its 15th season in Connecticut Thursday after relocating from Orlando where the franchise used to be the Miracle.

That moment allowed Bird to reflect on the growth of the WNBA and look toward its future especially since she plays on a daily basis with two dynamite talents in Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart.

 “There’s a lot to be proud of where the WNBA was and where it is now,” Bird said. “The platform we have as players along with a variety of things allows us to make an impact. There’s also a lot of off-court initiatives that you didn’t see 15 years ago.

“The talent has continued to increase. It’s Always a great time when we are moving in the right direction.”


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