Seattle Storm's USA Basketball Ties Run Deep
The dynamic duo of Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart were the one-two punch that helped lead the Seattle Storm to a fourth WNBA title – all four of which featured Bird. In claiming a fourth title, the first of which was won in 2004, Bird is the first player in WNBA history to win a championship in three different decades.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Seattle’s 2020 championship run was fueled by USA Basketball players who over the past 20 years helped the nation’s women’s hoops teams claim the top spot on podium after podium.
Stewart, the WNBA Finals MVP for the second time in as many championships with the Storm, is a two-time FIBA World Cup and 2016 Olympic champion who first donned the red, white and blue as a 14-year-old on the 2009 U16 National Team.
Bird, who is hoping to earn a fifth Olympic gold medal next summer in Tokyo, is the most decorated FIBA athlete on the planet with four World Cup gold medals and one World Cup bronze to go with her four Olympic golds. Her first of only six losses in a USA Basketball uniform came as a member of the 2000 USA Select Team that fell in an exhibition game to the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team. She saw what it took to climb to that level and two years later was on the USA National Team that claimed gold at the 2002 World Cup in China. Further, Bird
The Storm’s roster is full of top-notch athletes who have starred on USA Basketball teams, including three additional members of the current USA National Team pool in Jordin Canada, Jewell Loyd and Morgan Tuck, as well as USA National Team assistant coach Dan Hughes, who wasn’t in the ‘Wubble’ but was still very involved in the team’s fourth championship run.With Hughes on the sideline, Loyd and Tuck joined Bird and Stewart on the 2018 USA World Cup Team that claimed gold and qualified the U.S. for the 2020 Olympics.
Also, Natasha Howard, Crystal Langhorne and Mercedes Russell have spent time playing for USA Basketball in the past.
Here’s a brief recap of their USA Basketball careers.
Sue Bird: Is 142-6 all-time in a USA Basketball uniform, joined the USA National Team days after winning the 2002 NCAA title and has won gold medals at the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games; 2002, 2010, 2014 and 2018 FIBA World Cups; 2007 FIBA Americas Championship; and 2000 R. William Jones Cup.
Jordin Canada: Named to the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup All-Star Five after helping the USA claim gold, won gold at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, aided the USA to the title at the 2017 U24 Four Nations Tournament and is 20-0 in games played for USA Basketball.
Natasha Howard: Scored a game-high 24 points as a member of the 2016 USA Select Team that came within five points of upending the USA National Team in an exhibition contest.
Crystal Langhorne: Aided USA junior teams to gold at the 2005 FIBA U19 World Cup and the 2007 FIBA U21 World Cup before competing with the USA National Team at the 2008 Good Luck Beijing (4-2, silver medal) and the 2009 UMMC Ekaterinburg International Invitational (3-0, first place). Additionally, she was a member of the 2003 USA Youth Development Festival East Team that claimed gold.
Jewell Loyd: Has been successful in both five-on-five and 3x3, claiming gold medals at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, the 2014 FIBA 3x3 World Cup and 2010 FIBA U17 World Cup, and is 29-2 in USA Basketball games played.
Mercedes Russell: Earned gold medals at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, 2012 FIBA U17 World Cup and 2017 World University Games. She also helped the 2017 USA U23 National Team to a first-place finish at the U24 Four Nations Tournament in Tokyo.
Breanna Stewart: After winning five gold medals in international competition at the junior level, the then two-time USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year (she earned it again in 2018) was called up to the USA National Team for its 2013 October minicamp in Las Vegas and since then has helped the USA National Team claim gold at the 2016 Olympics (8-0) and two FIBA World Cups (12-0), while compiling a 12-1 exhibition record during that time. Additionally, she is believed to be the first FIBA U19 World Cup MVP (2013) to earn FIBA World Cup MVP (2018) honors at the senior level.
Morgan Tuck: Won gold medals at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, 2013 FIBA U19 World Cup, 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, 2011 FIBA U19 World Cup and 2010 FIBA U17 World Cup and is 48-2 all-time in USA Basketball games played. She, along with Stewart, are among the five U.S. athletes to have competed at two FIBA U19 World Cups.
Dan Hughes: Current USA National Team assistant coach who helped lead the USA to gold at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, 2019 FIBA AmeriCup and to a 6-0 sweep at the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying and 2019 Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.