We can debate who belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Seattle Sports all day long – and Ken Griffey Junior is likely at the top of most people’s lists.
But this discussion has zero merit – unless Sue Bird is a lock as well.
If you missed it while the Seahawks were playing the Cowboys, the Bird and the Storm (clinched a spot in the WNBA Finals). They’re now three wins from their fourth championship in franchise history, which would tie them for the most titles in league history. There is one common link between every single one of those titles, dating all the way back to their first one in 2004. And that is Bird.
What’s your criteria? If its championships, Bird has brought three to Seattle – more than any other athlete in this city’s history – and now she’s got a chance at four. There’s also the four Olympic gold medals. The five EuroLeague championships. The two NCAA titles.
If it’s longevity, Bird’s 17 seasons basically match Edgar Martinez’s time in Seattle – and remember, she’d be at 19 if she didn’t have to miss all of 2013 and last year. A lot can be said, especially in this day and age of sports, for loyalty to one city for an entire career.
If it’s individual accolades, there’s the 11 All-Star Selections and the five WNBA first-team selections.
And then there’s that minor deal that no one in league history has more assists than Bird – the ultimate stat when it comes to being a team player and making your team better.
Listen: You don’t have to like women’s basketball. It doesn’t have to be your cup of tea. And I understand that Bird’s impact might not be as far-reaching as other athletes due to the popularity comparison between the Storm and the Seahawks, or the Mariners, or other local teams. But the that’s simply not a good enough reason to eliminate Bird if you’re having rational and realistic discussion about the best and most accomplished athletes in Seattle history – at least, if merit is a top priority on your list.
All too often I hear the argument about whether Bird deserves the fourth and final spot on that list, when it really should be the other way around.
Put her in permanent ink to start – and THEN debate who else should join her.
The Storm might be about 3,000 miles away, but their story of consistent success despite all the challenges this year cannot be lost. More importantly, the franchise’s story of consistent success over the past two decades can’t be lost either – nor can the one player who links it all together. Keep that in mind as you watch Bird lead this team in the WNBA finals – what she’s meant, and still means, for this organization and for its fan base.
And ultimately, what she means to this city.
Hoisting a possible fourth championship trophy shouldn’t have to remind us of that fact. It shouldn’t help solidify a spot atop the mountain.
Because the numbers and accomplishments show that she’s already there.