This past fall, I celebrated my 10th anniversary with the Sonics & Storm organization. Ten seasons is a lot of games, a lot of players and a lot of stories and blog posts. There’s a nice symmetry in that, as 2012 also turned out to be my last season. After a decade with the organization going back to the Sonics & Storm days, I’m moving on to join ESPN Insider as an NBA columnist.
My first Storm game at KeyArena was actually the year before, during Sue Bird’s rookie season, when I had a press pass to track defensive statistics for a project that ended up in the book Basketball on Paper. It took me approximately two games to get hooked. During the Storm’s second game of 2002, Bird led a comeback to beat the Minnesota Lynx (with Brian Agler and Katie Smith) and that was all it took. I soon had an account on StormFans.org, was calculating WNBA ratings and listening to David Locke and Elise Woodward on the radio.
When I was hired by the Sonics & Storm as a web intern that fall, I was ready to make covering the Storm a priority. Ten years later, I’m proud of our track record of bringing you as much content and analysis as possible here on StormBasketball.com. It’s exciting to see other teams follow our lead by investing in their websites.
The past decade has brought a lot of highlights. It’s easy to take the Storm’s success with Bird and Lauren Jackson for granted, but I’ve gotten to cover nine playoff teams in 10 years (the other missed on a tiebreaker), three MVP campaigns from Jackson and, of course, two championship teams. Thanks to the hard work of players and coaches, I’m the proud owner of two WNBA championship rings, and I was thrilled to share in those special nights at KeyArena and Philips Arena in Atlanta.
I have so many people to thank for helping make my job easier. Without exception, the players and coaches have been great. Bird and Jackson deserve special credit for patiently answering so many of my questions over the years, and both Anne Donovan and Coach Agler and their coaching staffs made me feel like part of the family as opposed to an outsider. I’ve learned a great deal about basketball from all of the coaches that I will take with me throughout my career.
I wouldn’t have lasted 10 years without the support of Karen Bryant, who made web content a priority, which is no small thing for an independent franchise. The same applies to the members of Force 10 Hoops, without whom none of us would be following the Storm. Dick Fain and Adia Barnes welcomed me to the broadcast doing stats, as did David, Elise and Alan Horton before them. Fans might not know the names of everyone else within the organization, but I could not have asked for a better group of coworkers, many of whom have become lifelong friends.
Most of all, thanks to all the fans and readers. Your interest in Storm news and analysis justified my salary, and your feedback was a key reason why my work was always so rewarding. The KeyArena stands are truly a community, and I hope I was successful in trying to serve as the eyes and ears of fans behind the scenes at practices and games.
While the NBA will be now be my sole professional focus, I will still be watching and analyzing the Storm and the rest of the W. You can follow me on Twitter @kpeltonWBB, and I’m sure I’ll find someplace to share my thoughts and advanced statistics by the time the upcoming season tips off.
The Storm organization is hard at work finding a replacement to provide the level of coverage you’ve come to expect from StormBasketball.com. Stay tuned for more on that. I hope you’ll treat whoever comes next as well as you’ve treated me.