The question has no right or wrong answer. There are some who would say it should never be asked at all. Still, today – the sixth anniversary of the Storm laying claim to the first championship in franchise history – seems like the appropriate time to ponder which of the Storm’s two championships was more memorable.
The Argument for 2004
- The first time is always special. Every experience on the path to the 2004 championship was a new one for the Storm. The team had never even so much as won a playoff game at the beginning of the year. As the games kept getting bigger, the Storm never blinked, and by the end of the run the Storm had a championship that was somewhat unexpected for its efforts.
Additionally, the 2004 championship snapped a 25-year drought of major professional championships in the city of Seattle, which was overdue to bring home some hardware.
- Winning at home. While it is a good thing that the WNBA Finals have expanded to a best-of-five format, the nice thing about the old three-game series was that they ensured the higher-seeded team a chance to win on its home floor. The Storm did just that. Playing in front of a full house of 17,072 fans in both Game 2 and the deciding Game 3, the Storm fed off the crowd’s energy. When the final buzzer sounded on the Storm’s 74-60 win to clinch the series, confetti fell from the KeyArena rafters and fans celebrated throughout the arena. That same emotion could not entirely be replicated on the road at Philips Arena, though winning away from home provided the opportunity for a special welcome when the team returned from Atlanta the next day.
The Argument for 2010
- Bouncing back from postseason disappointment. The flip side of the unprecedented nature of the 2004 run was that players and staff had a tough time putting everything into context. The intervening five years, each of which ended in a first-round playoff exit, served as a reminder of just how difficult it is to win a championship. In that sense, getting back on top was sweeter than winning the first time. Sue Bird was asked about this a number of times during the WNBA Finals. Ultimately, when the series was completed, she admitted the difference.
“I guess now I can be honest, right?” Bird said. “Losing in the first round has been terrible. Having people write about it and talk about it, it’s something that I took very personally, a lot of us took very personally. I judge myself as a player based on winning, that’s how I judge myself, and to not win in five years really, really hurt. So with the playoff disappointment and the ownership change, everything that’s gone on, coaching change, player change, to sit here right now … I mean, I can’t even describe it.”
- Breaking ground for a new ownership group. As Bird referenced, a lot has happened off the floor between 2004 and now. The Sonics & Storm were sold, putting the team’s future in Seattle in jeopardy, and the Storm was purchased by Force 10 Hoops LLC before the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City. The possibility that there might not have been any WNBA basketball in Seattle, let alone championships, made 2010’s success more poignant. It was also ground-breaking. The Storm became the first independent franchise to win a WNBA championship and the first all-female ownership group to win a basketball title.
Ultimately, I would have to say the 2004 championship wins out in my mind. The 2010 season was probably more special because of all the milestones and the undefeated run through the playoffs. When it comes to the championship in particular, 2004 will be hard to beat. The circumstances surrounding the Storm’s Game 3 victory at KeyArena made it the most memorable moment for me in Storm franchise history.
Agree? Disagree? I’m curious to get fans’ take.