Seattle Storm Legend Sue Chicken Covers SLAM 228

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GRAB YOUR COPY OF SLAM 228 FEATURING SUE BIRD

Within the 14th and 15th centuries, the world noticed a surge of insanely gifted people mastering particular crafts, from arithmetic to artwork and science. Leonardo da Vinci, Lavinia Fontana and Michelangelo had been among the influential women and men who made up the historic Renaissance interval. Again then, they had been referred to as “Renaissance” males or ladies, however immediately, we use the phrase icon to explain these whose attain goes past their occupation. Few have earned the correct to have the time period connected to their identify, but when there’s one hooper who’s the precise definition of an icon, it’s Sue Chicken.

Yr 19 is approaching for the WNBA’s all-time assists chief, however this 12 months is in contrast to another. Versus prepping for the season within the cool Seattle air, Sue’s days have been full of practices, media and movie periods within the WNBA bubble at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. Even via the unexpected circumstances, Sue has remained the calm, collected vet that she is, prepared for an additional run at a championship.

An iconic profession inside the sport of basketball was one thing {that a} younger woman from Syosset, NY, by no means, ever dreamed of.

Sue picked up a basketball at 5 years outdated to repeat her huge sister. Rising up within the early ’90s, she performed the sport for a similar purpose all of us did: it was enjoyable. At that time, there was no considered turning that sport into a real profession. The WNBA didn’t exist but, and {many professional} ladies’s leagues had failed over the course of the ’70s and ’80s. Organized skilled basketball past the Olympics was not an possibility for girls in the USA, so most of the greats had been compelled to take their skills abroad or stopped taking part in altogether after school.

Lastly, in 1996, the late NBA Commissioner David Stern had a imaginative and prescient and introduced the creation of the Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation. By then, Sue had entered highschool and transferred to Christ The King (NY) HS, one of many prime basketball packages within the nation, for her junior 12 months.

“I’m in all probability one of many first courses that obtained recruited in highschool realizing there’s a WNBA,” the three-time WNBA champ tells SLAM. “That final 12 months of highschool, I form of knew school might assist me get to the WNBA, however even that was only a thought. There weren’t any gamers to comply with of their footsteps. I didn’t even know if there was going to be an precise draft class. After all, there have been the Lisa Leslies, the Rebecca Lobos, the Sheryl Swoopes and possibly some gamers in between, however nobody had an 18-year profession at that time.”

With the thought of probably turning professional after school, it was solely proper that she dedicated to top-of-the-line school packages of all time: UConn. The varsity has grow to be the elite vacation spot for creating ladies’s basketball gamers for the following degree.

In recruiting the Nassau County prospect, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma didn’t see the flashy play that the majority school recruiters search for in a prime guard. What he noticed was a PG who was prepared to do the gritty work, had nice imaginative and prescient and will direct the offense like a composer, bringing collectively the items to a musical masterpiece.

“She’s going to be somebody that, until you’re paying consideration, she’s not going to ‘wow’ you with stats or ridiculous performs. You actually have to concentrate,” Auriemma instructed SB Nation in 2018 about when he first noticed Sue play.

Sue had a rocky begin to her collegiate profession, struggling a torn ACL early in her freshman 12 months. She bounced again her sophomore season, hungry and able to make a distinction. The guard took her first step into the highlight in a significant rivalry sport in opposition to Tennessee, the place she led the crew to a win with 25 factors.

“In video games like that, I wish to get everybody else going and everybody else feeling good. Then, you realize, generally when it hits the fan, that’s once you gotta flip it up,” Chicken stated on SNY in 2014. 

1595890040 384 Seattle Storm Legend Sue Bird Covers SLAM 228 Giv.in

Like 112’s “Solely You” that includes Biggie and Ma$e, her sport is even-keeled till it’s crunch time and he or she’s gotta take over.

“Possibly that’s my sport. It form of comes sluggish after which it hits you with the verse. It’s a sluggish delicate track that you could work out to, an R&B track that you could really get hype to,” the longer term Corridor of Famer says.

Pushed by a mentality geared to elevating these round her, Sue went on to steer the Huskies to 2 NCAA nationwide championships. In her senior season, she was additionally awarded the 2002 Wade Trophy and named the Naismith Faculty Participant of the Yr.

That very same 12 months, Sue went No. 1 within the WNBA’s sixth ever draft. The remaining has been historical past. All through a profession that’s spanned nearly 20 years, she’s gained three WNBA championships, 4 FIBA World Cup golds, 4 Olympic golds and far more. Although it goes on and on, this story can’t be made up solely of an inventory of Sue’s accomplishments. There’s one factor that has remained constant throughout such a legendary run: her method to the sport.

That method is completely summarized by how her teammates really feel her presence. Talking with a few of her Crew USA squad this previous winter, all of them burdened one factor: Sue all the time retains it cool.

“She’s by no means, like, panicking,” Kayla McBride stated.

A laughing A’ja Wilson recalled how she all the time finally ends up agreeing with Sue’s reminders that “It’s gonna be OK” and “We’re advantageous.” Throughout powerful moments, Sue can put everybody comfy.

“I feel for me, I form of all the time had that in me. I used to be all the time studying the sport, taking part in the sport cerebrally, all the time serious about the sport. After which as I obtained older, I feel the calming impact is simply so me,” Chicken says. “I identical to to be as ready as doable to be constant—not with my play as a result of some days you’re going to go on the market and ball out and have 20 or 30 factors and different days you’re going to be horrible and that simply occurs. However I simply attempt to be in line with who I’m to the crew. What I convey daily to apply, what I’m bringing to the video games, and if that may give my teammates confidence, then I feel that’s the place the calming comes from.”

GRAB YOUR COPY OF SLAM 228 FEATURING SUE BIRD

Her method was on full show in 2018, when the Storm confronted her good buddy and former teammate Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury.

In Sport 2 of that 12 months’s playoff matchup, the 2 real-life superheroes battled backwards and forwards.

With 7.three seconds left within the fourth, Taurasi drained the game-tying three in Sue’s face to ship it to OT. Your entire KeyArena fell useless silent, however Sue knew what was good. She knew she would put her crew in the perfect spot to win in the long run, and that’s precisely what occurred. Some clutch buckets and a damaged nostril later, masked Sue went on to steer the Storm previous their Western Convention foe and to the 2018 title.

“That second was unreal simply because I didn’t count on it,” she says. “I feel what that did personally for me was actually solidify my longevity, my influence on issues. , I primarily gained in nearly three totally different a long time, in 2004, 2010, 2018, with three totally different groups.”

It’s simply who she is. A grasp of her craft, assured in her consistency and poised to place the crew in the perfect place to win.

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“I all the time joke that ‘I’m pleased to be the Robin.’ To be sincere, I’ve moments of Batman, however I don’t know that I’m a complete Batman,” Chicken tells SLAM. “It’s a vital position as a result of Robin helps Batman succeed, but additionally helps all the opposite gamers on the crew succeed, and that I feel has been the important thing to all of the championships.”

The WNBA vet has molded a profession simply as profitable off the court docket—one which has helped redefine the attain that skilled athletes have past their respective sports activities. She’s been on the quilt of InStyle, a trend journal, labored in an NBA entrance workplace, hosted an awards present, created tons of content material, has her personal Kyrie 5 colorway (“Preserve Sue Recent”) and is likely one of the greatest sports activities activists in our society. There’s fairly actually nothing that Sue Chicken hasn’t finished.

“I don’t know, I’m simply genuinely all for all the stuff you simply named,” the 2020 ESPYs co-host responds, when requested about what evokes her off-court pursuits. “So it makes it straightforward to have a ardour for them and to be tremendous concerned it doesn’t matter what it’s we’re speaking about.”

Just like the selfless human that she is, she provides loads of credit score to her girlfriend and US Soccer Ladies’s Nationwide Crew captain Megan Rapinoe.

“I feel really courting Megan has undoubtedly opened my eyes to loads of issues,” Sue says. “I’d be remiss to not point out her whether or not we’re speaking about issues like trend [or not]. However I feel [as] a bigger instance, there [are] loads of instances we form of put ourselves in a field or we consider ourselves another way and what Megan has actually finished for me, past simply trend, is allowed me to get out of this little field that I put myself in.”

One of many first methods the 2 related was really via a mutual curiosity in social activism and studying how they might each use their platforms to push for change. Throughout the summer season of 2016, earlier than Colin Kaepernick took a knee to name consideration to police brutality, gamers across the WNBA made on-court statements condemning the murders of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling.

“I joke that she slid within the DMs, but it surely wasn’t fairly like that, I promise,” Chicken says. “It was proper after the Minnesota Lynx had worn the ‘Change Begins With Us’ shirts, I consider, then loads of groups adopted swimsuit and my crew was one in all them. Clearly Megan performs in Seattle, so she hit me up on Instagram and was like, Hey, that is wonderful, and we simply had this dialog about social justice.”

The 2 always bounce concepts off one another in regards to the combat for social justice. These discussions included conversations about what the WNBA’s funding in utilizing the 2020 season to additional name for social change ought to be.

“Effectively, in the beginning, that was on the agenda day one when the talks started between our government committee and the League on having this bubble,” Chicken explains. “It was a non-negotiable. If we had been to come back and take part on this season, the League wanted to help us in no matter social justice route we wished to take.”

One of many main areas of influence for each Megan and Sue has been their work for pay and gender equality. Inside their respective leagues, they’ve been on the forefront of forcing these in positions of energy to spend money on rising ladies’s sports activities and pushing society ahead as an entire. Simply this previous 12 months, Sue helped negotiate a historic CBA for the WNBA and its gamers, drastically upgrading pay and advantages and specializing in extra advertising and marketing for the League total.

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As she is on the court docket, Sue Chicken, the activist, consists in a way that makes her message clear and makes rattling certain that you just’re going to listen to it.

The identical mindset and perspective that she’s maintained over time has fairly actually helped the WNBA lurch ahead to grow to be the highest ladies’s skilled league on the earth. And whereas she’s already achieved a lot, she hopes that the League continues its huge strides.  

“I all the time joke—via the years, you hear older retired NBA gamers who’ve just a little little bit of a grumpiness about them after they hear about youthful gamers and their million-dollar contracts. So I all the time hope that I’m a grumpy outdated vet or retired participant that’s simply mad that I didn’t get the hundreds of thousands as a result of that implies that ladies’s basketball gamers are getting that a lot and that implies that I had a small half in serving to the League transfer ahead,” Chicken says.

When creating her method to her profession, it was the trail of one other modern-day Renaissance Man that all the time stayed prime of thoughts.  

“It’s really one in all Kobe Bryant’s quotes that actually spoke to me,” Sue explains. “It’s not verbatim or something however he stated, There’s going to be one other champion. There’s going to be, in 10 years, one other participant who will sit right here and have this dialog about all of the Olympic gold medals they gained and all of the WNBA championships they gained. They exist already and there’s going to be extra. In some methods, you need to have an effect on the sport that lasts even longer.

It’s a message that she’s held intently over time, driving her ardour towards making the WNBA higher for future generations. That features the negotiations with the League about this season, which introduced its personal set of challenges. Chicken helped work with the gamers and the League to agree upon the phrases to taking part in within the IMG Academy bubble.

The vast majority of the 2018 championship Seattle Storm crew is again, and they’re a favourite to win all of it this summer season. However they’ll be taking part in in a completely new setting with a squad that hasn’t taken the ground collectively in two years, with Sue and Breanna Stewart having each missed final season.

“Alysha Clark, I feel it was, we had been in a huddle and he or she was like, ‘Hey guys, welcome again. First time [we’ve been] collectively since 2018.’ I used to be like, ‘Oh my God.’ It’s form of loopy,” she recollects about their first apply.

The 11-time All-Star didn’t break a sweat, although, when speaking about taking part in this 12 months. She remained the identical composed chief that she’s all the time been, recognizing the query marks about this season, however realizing full properly that she is going to as soon as once more assist put the Storm in the perfect place to succeed.

While you discuss nice ones, you discuss in regards to the sacrifices, the willingness to win in any respect prices, the X-factor that places them above all different gamers. Sue goes past that as a result of she’s greater than her manufacturing on the court docket; she’s serving to create a world for the following “Sue Chicken.”

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Reflecting on being on the quilt of this journal, Chicken has a message for her youthful self.  

“Truthfully, younger Sue Chicken would have been pleased to be one of many [SLAM] diaries, for actual,” she says. “I bear in mind SLAM Journal was a should pick-up for me rising up, and I might instantly go to that part, the place they might comply with folks and do this month-to-month diary. A younger Sue Chicken wouldn’t consider me.”

Effectively, you higher consider it, icon.

GRAB YOUR COPY OF SLAM 228 FEATURING SUE BIRD

Camille Buxeda is a Senior Content material Producer at SLAM. Comply with her on twitter @CamilleBuxeda.

Portraits by Ned Dishman/NBAE through Getty Photos.

Motion photograph by Barry Gossage/NBAE through Getty Photos.

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