2011 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Women’s National Basketball Association. Since the organization’s inception in 1996, it has grown from its original eight teams to ten current teams.
This number has fluctuated due to beginnings and folding of various teams, but one has stuck it out since the year 2000. That team is the Seattle Storm. Currently one of the stronger teams in the WNBA, the Storm was not always so accomplished.
A Stormy Beginning
The Seattle Storm’s story begins in 2000. A budding WNBA team, they were brand new to the world of professional women’s basketball in the United States.
They finished this first season with a record of only six wins and a whopping twenty-six losses. However, due to their very low record, the Storm was able to draft Australian basketball star Lauren Jackson in 2001, who has been instrumental to the Storm’s success since that draft.
The 2001 season was still rough for the Storm, but with Jackson’s leadership, the franchise was able to build a solid foundation for later years. At the end of the season, the Storm was still lacking a consistent point guard. So, Sue Bird was drafted for the 2002 season, further solidifying the team’s roster of skilled players.
In 2003, the Stormed hired Anne Donovan as their new coach. In spite of amazing performances by Jackson, who won the WNBA Most Valuable Player award, the team was unable to make it to the playoffs. This was largely due to the fact that Bird was injured for the majority of the season.
Picking it Up
After three rough seasons, the Storm was undoubtedly ready to turn things around. The team was finally able to post a winning record of twenty wins and fourteen losses, a franchise best. This great record brought them to the playoffs, where they squared off against the Minnesota Lynx, sweeping them in the first round.
In the second round, the Storm faced the Sacramento Monarchs. Though the Monarchs presented more of a challenge than the Lynx, the Storm was still victorious, winning two games to one. The next games were momentous for the Seattle Storm. The WNBA finals were a place the Storm had only dreamt about for the last four years, and in 2004 they were finally there.
In the finals, they faced the Connecticut Sun, who were certainly the most formidable opponent the Storm had seen that season. Still, they defeated the Sun two games to one, becoming for the first time in their history, the WNBA champions. This win also made Coach Anne Donovan the first female coach to ever lead a team to victory in the WNBA.
From 2005 to 2009, the Storm continued to contend for the WNBA championship tournament. However, in those four seasons they were unable to capture the championship again. This was due to some major roster changes, including the loss of Tully Bevilaqua and Sheri Sam in 2005, and the resignation of Anne Donovan in 2007.
In spite of a rough yet relatively successful four years, the Storm came out incredibly strong for the 2010 season. They were posted an amazing record of 28 wins and only 6 losses, a complete reversal from where they were at the team’s inception. Further, they posted an at home record of 17-0, the highest in WNBA history.
Then, in the playoffs, they swept each round, to again clinch the championship. This made them the first team in Seattle’s history to win two league titles.