No rest for WNBA champs Bird, Stewart and Loyd
TENERIFE, Spain (AP) — It's been a whirlwind week for Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd. The trio won a WNBA championship with the Seattle Storm and then dashed off to play for USA Basketball in the FIBA Women's World Cup.
"It's been busy, now we are turning the page," said Stewart, the WNBA MVP of both the regular season and the Finals. "We did everything we wanted to. Won a championship and had a parade. Now we are switching gears. We'll have more of an appreciation of what we did the last month when this is over. Now we're just focused on helping USA Basketball and do what we can to win."
Seattle won the title on Sept. 12, sweeping Washington in the best-of-five series. The team flew back from D.C. the next day and then had a parade three days later to celebrate the championship. The three players and coach Dan Hughes were on a plane the next day to Spain.
"The last week has been insane, the fact we won a week ago and now are here," Stewart said Thursday.
It's not the first time Bird has had to do this. The Storm last won a title in 2010 and Bird and then-teammate Swin Cash had to fly to the Czech Republic soon after to get ready for the world championship.
"You just do, there's no science to it. After we won in Washington, we had a good three to four days to really enjoy it," Bird said. "The city did a wonderful job with the parade, the rally. As a team we got to hang out pretty much every night. The city was amazing, everyone was buying us dinner and drinks wherever we went. It starts to wind down and you flip the switch and start all over again."
While Bird is playing in her fifth world championship, this is Loyd's first.
"It means a lot. Any time you have a USA jersey on is an honor," Loyd said. "To do it with the teammates who I just won a championship with makes it even more special. I'm excited for this new journey and to add to my legacy."
Seattle Storm teammate Sami Whitcomb also is in Spain, playing for Australia. Bird joked that she warned her American teammates before their scrimmage on Wednesday that Whitcomb could shoot extremely well, and yet she still hit a few open looks.
"To see her get rewarded in this way, it's pretty cool," Bird said.
Hughes knows he'll have plenty of time to celebrate his first WNBA title after this two-week stretch is finished, hopefully with a gold medal. For now, he's enjoying the chance to be an assistant to U.S. coach Dawn Staley.
"It's fun for me, I spent 16 years as a collegiate assistant and actually felt like that period was a good period of my life. I enjoyed it, liked being an assistant," he said. "It's fun to revisit it in that regard. How to be helpful to Dawn as opposed to being the final decision-maker."
The Storm players aren't the only ones from the Finals in the World Cup. Washington Mystics star Elena Delle Donne is playing in it for the first time. For her, the World Cup is a chance to get back on the court and move past the disappointing end to the season.
"I was just dwelling till I got here," she said. "And now I have something new to focus on. It's nice to be able to compete again and win something."
Delle Donne said the bone bruise in her left knee that limited her during the playoffs is getting better, but she will talk to Staley about her playing time.
"It's pretty much Dawn and I talk it out and see how it feels and go from there," Delle Donne said. "I had to convince my doctors. I told them I wouldn't be going crazy minutes, I'd be smart. When this is done I have time to go rest and recover and be all right."