Dear Seattle Sports Fan,
Anyone who knows me well knows that my first and foremost sports love is the Seattle Seahawks. It has been that way since 1983 when the Seahawks came out of nowhere in Chuck Knox’s first year as head coach, and they made the playoffs for the first time in their young history, making it all the way to the AFC Championship Game before losing to the LA Raiders.
When that happened, I fell in love, and haven’t looked back. I’m as devoted of a Twelve as you will ever find, and I ride with them through thick and thin.
But that said, sports offers a wonderful opportunity to have many loves. In fact, it’s the one scenario where I see polyamory as something that works out quite well for me.
You see, the Seattle Seahawks weren’t my first sports love. That title belongs to the Seattle SuperSonics. They were the team that first won me over in early elementary when they won the NBA Championship in 1979, when I was playing basketball in the little leagues.
They have always been a team near and dear to me, and to this date, rarely will I sit down to enjoy an NBA game with them no longer a part of that league. I just can’t do it.
The only NBA series I watched since the Sonics were robbed from me was Toronto vs Golden State in the Finals a couple years back. The only reason why I watched that series will make more sense in this piece later on.
Other than that, the NBA, as a league can collectively fudge off inside their pants for all I care until Seattle gets the Sonics back. Until then, I won’t follow.
The Sonics were to Seattle what Nirvana and Pearl Jam were, and anyone who was in Seattle in the 1990’s knows exactly what I am talking about. There was a distinct symbiotic relationship between the iconic Seattle music scene and the iconic basketball team. And you can blame Starbucks all you want, but the Seattle city counsel and the NBA commissioner at the time, equally, if not more, screwed us out of our regional professional men’s basketball team.
To this day, I remain largely bitter about Seattle politics and the NBA as I do about the bitterness I feel towards Howard F’ing Schultz. Those are constants in my life, actually.
In fact, my blood still boils as I type that out, and my Apple watch is telling my to “take a moment of mindfulness.” So, I guess that this is a great place to segue into the newer sports love I’ve found in the WNBA and the Seattle Storm.
I love the WNBA and specifically the Seattle Storm. I love them deeply.
I fell in love with Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm shortly after I met and I fell in love with my wife over a decade ago. She was about as big of a Storm fan as I was a Seahawks fan.
I had never gone to the Storm game before I met her, and truthfully, I had little interest. But meeting my wife, and falling in love with her opened my eyes to the joy of women’s professional basketball, and it didn’t take me long to get hooked and invested.
Truthfully, with no NBA team any longer in Seattle, Sue and the girls filled the big basketball void in my heart. They were fun to watch, and I genuinely marveled at them.
So a few years back, in the fateful Spring of 2018, when my wife and myself sat in on a Seattle Storm draft party that was hosted by Storm broadcast analyst Elise Woodward, and she announced and then talked about the Storm’s first pick in that draft, UCLA point guard Jordin Canada, after the dust settled a bit, I felt a new tug at my heart, and excitement about my WNBA team in an unexpected sorta way. This is when I knew that the Seattle Storm were big time gonna be My Team, and not just my wife’s team that I was pulling for.
Sitting in that draft party, I was a basketball fan that was hoping Seattle would draft another “Big.” Myself having played power forward as a kid, I’ve always held the belief that basketball was a game to be won with big players, even with the modern trends. I wanted Seattle to draft a mate to pair up with superstar forward Breanna Stewart.
But when Seattle made their selection, it wasn’t that sort of player. I felt a bit dejected, initially (kinda like whenever the Seahawks don’t draft a defensive linemen with their first pick). It didn’t take me long, however, once hearing Elise Woodward describe this little gal from Southern California, that I got super pumped for the season.
In fact, I turned to my wife and promptly said that I thought the Seattle Storm were gonna win the WNBA championship later that year. The Seattle Storm did, in fact, do just that.
I’m not going to pretend that Jordin Canada was the main reason why the Storm took over the league that year, and got Sue another title. There was impact talent across that roster.
Breanna Stewart was clearly the best player on their roster, and was league MVP that year. Sue Bird had perhaps the single most impressive basketball playoff performance I have ever seen in my life playing in that series against the Phoenix Mercury, and Seattle made a trade for the highly athletic forward/center Natasha Howard who seemed like the missing piece to go along with shooting guard Jewell Lloyd, and swing player Alysha Clark.
But my girl Canada just had a special something-something whenever her sneakers hit the floor. As described by Woodward at the draft party, Jordin just seemed quicker than everyone else on the floor, and considerably more agile. She was a world class athlete playing basketball. Her outside shot might’ve been not be nearly the same as Bird’s, but her quickness driving through much larger players to the basket was dynamic to watch. There’s few in the league like her, in that particular way.
This smallish girl with the quicks quickly became a bit of a sports crush, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I root hard for her. I’m dug in.
As she has now left Seattle via free agency for the LA Sparks, I’m pulling for her to do well, and continue to blossom as a player who might now have an expanded role on a roster without Bird and Lloyd in front of her.
There’s many things to like about Jordin Canada. Some of it is skill, and a lot of it is also personality.
She’s not demonstrative, she’s not a superstar in her league, and she isn’t at a stage in her career where you would expect her to take over games (although it’s been a joy watching her whenever she’s been the hot hand). What she is, though, is a player who can create a spark on the floor with her athleticism, and she has an air about her that is just down right likable, kinda like Tyler Lockett. You naturally dig who she is.
If Tyler Lockett were to ever leave the Seattle Seahawks for another organization, I think the vast majority of Seahawk fans would continue rooting for the dude, even if it were for a team in the same division. That speaks to his character. That’s how I feel about Jordin.
On a whole other level, I’m deeply a sentimentalist, too. I was there at the Storm draft party when she was taken 6th overall in the league that year. I heard her player evaluation breakdown and the logic behind drafting her. I anticipated her impact on the Seattle roster, and felt invested when it unfolded as planned.
Maybe more deeply, her last name being Canada was instantly symbolic for me. My mother was Canadian, and I a large portion of my childhood years with my mother visiting relatives in the western provinces any chance we got.
Even though I am proudly American, I feel a deep connection to Canada, and my mother’s nationalistic pride of that country rubbed off on me. I root for that country’s success during the Olympics and in other international sporting events.
In the states, when I discover that someone down here is from the Great White North, I will feel compelled to latch onto them. In my time as a working actor in the Seattle theater scene, I’ve come across many, and my bonds with them almost always became immediate. They were gonna be my friends whether they wanted to or not.
Canadians are very much my kinda people.
My dear, sweet, goofy Canadian mother passed away a few years prior to Jordin becoming a Storm. Therefore, emotionally, I was still in a place of missing her greatly in my life on that fateful day of that WNBA draft in 2018.
So when this pretty little gal from Southern Cal was drafted, and I heard that name called, and I saw her short and plucky stature racing up and down the court in the highlights shown, as saw an immediate connection to my mom. I heard the name, and saw a resemblance from a physical perspective.
Simply put, in an unexpected way, I immediately projected a lot onto this player. I’m glad I never met here because I probably would have gawked, and then geeked her out.
In truth, if I were to ever purchase and wear any jersey of a Storm player, it would be hers, even though she is now an LA Spark. That would make sense to me.
It’s funny how we project things onto our favorite athletes, and even the ones we despise, for that matter.
I love Marshawn Lynch largely because of what I project him to be and think of him as. My sense of him is strengthened by what I so often hear others say of him that know him. I think I’d love to hang with that dude. By every account, he genuinely seems a truly remarkable and enlightened human being. Therefore, I’m one of his biggest fans.
Conversely, I strongly dislike Aaron Rodgers because of what I perceive is his hyper arrogance and ego to be, but the reality of it is that I don’t know if that would change if we spent the day digging a french drain pit together in heavy clay soil, and we chew the shit on topic after topic trying to get a lot of grueling work done. In my experience, that is how I better get to know someone. I might hate his position on the vaccine, but I might dig his takes on classic rock and comedies from the 1980s.
I might also want to take a shovel to his head by late morning. I don’t know.
All I know is that it is a blessing to get to follow these rare athletes, and attach ourselves to them however we feel compelled, however long standing or shortly lived, depending on how fluid things evolve (“cough, cough.. please stop talking about your legacy Russ” ).
At the end of the day, Jordin Canada is a fun basketball player to watch, and I will miss her not being up here. I wish Seattle would have given her another shot, but I get that in pro sports, you can’t keep every player, and there are others ahead of her on this roster that are more impactful and had to be prioritized.
I also get it that she had a bit of a down year in 2021 filling in for Bird more expansively when the superstar living legend was injured. Still, a large part of me wonders if my Seattle WNBA franchise gave up on her too soon.
There’s big roles in basketball for high energy players coming in off the bench. It’s like a player in football who is solely a pass rush specialist who comes in only on obvious passing downs. You stack those players on your roster and value them even if they on not three down players.
The two WNBA championships that Seattle won in Jordin’s four seasons here were dominating stretches of basketball by any measure, and I believe the strategy of using Jordin’s speed and kinetic energy off the bench for long stretches of time, more than effectively gassed opponents of their energy by the mid point of many third periods. That was a huge advantage for Seattle in those seasons, and that’s when you often saw them take over ball games.
I know that this show is still all about Sue, and Breanna, and Jewell, but I genuinely dug me some Canada, and I will root for her success. I will also somewhat question not bringing her back for a fifth year, and wonder who the Storm will have in 2022 to provide that similar sorta high energy spark off the bench that proved so vital.
I have a sense that I will miss her here greatly. I just hope the Storm has a very good plan moving forward without her.