September 24, 2010
Is the Storm Seattle’s best ever team? Is it the best sports team or perhaps the best community contributors? Is it the best ever or is it just the best ever hype? If best, how come the good people of Seattle largely ignored them for years? Why are the players paid so frugally if they are actually the best? How come the chauvinists among us get away with sexist comments about the sexual orientation of whoever involved, not based in any known facts? To my knowledge, no one claims the Seahawks and fans are all gay. And those sissies don’t even win games.
We are members of teams of our own, be it Team Mariners, Team Microsoft, Team Teamsters or Team Smith Family. Teams include Team Nazi Lowriders or Team Cosa Nostra. There are teams representing interests from A to Z, however insignificant in the greater scheme. Some are mandatory, others are looser. Mandatory or not, members generally view their team as the best ever. Thinking differently is treason.
What kind of a team is the Seattle Storm? Stupid question, you say. They are the Seattle Storm, what else? That is certainly true. The question is whether or not they are the “best” team. First, the team concept is quite complex. It is a misused and an overused concept – as in this very post. Second, “best” is a loaded descriptor. Is the Storm a better team than the Team Smith (or whatever) Family? Is the Storm superior to Team Mother Theresa? Are they better than Team Lance Armstrong winding its way, year after year, up bone breaking Alpine and Pyrenees Mountains?
Take the Sonics for instance. I’m old enough to be sitting in a New York bar, sipping a brew or two on the eve of June 1, 1979. The Sonics crushed the Washington Bullets 4-1 to win the NBA title. Remember that team? Sikma, Silas, Johnson, Williams to mention a few. They are legends indeed. Here is another great team effort. I sat in a pub, sipping a pint or two, in Oxford, England when Team NASA put a Team on the Moon on July 20th 1969. “”That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”
Those are the good teams.
Earlier, I was a sailor, not sipping beer, on a naval ship on November 22, 1963. Team Navy took on a completely different outlook right then and there on that day. A recent high school diploma provided no guidance in a World turning violent. Team US Army under William Calley raped and murdered My Lai on March 16, 1968. Team MLK lost their leader on April 4, 1968 to a deranged nobody. The murders of Bobby Kennedy, John Lennon, Israeli athletes and countless others followed. The Sixties and Seventies were not just about Team Free Love. Team IRA blew up the London Hilton, missing yours truly by a few hours. Later they blew up Harrods with me a block away. These kinds of teams can get personal.
Team America woke up on September 11, 2001, a date more familiar to many of you. Team Bush, recognizing an opportunity, declared war (“Bring’m on!”) on Muslims, human rights, the US constitution and nail clippers. Team Bush also led the rescue (“Heck of a job, Brownie”) of New Orleans, drowned by Katrina on August 29, 2005. Recently, Team Lehman Brothers met its Waterloo on Sept 1, 2008, (“We were just told in the last hour not to come back tomorrow”) but only after screwing you and me royally.
What has Bush to do with the Storm? Not much, to be true. But the Storm is not the only Team in town. By nature, teams are competitive, ready to let their jugulars go for your throat. Innocent as the Storm might be, they compete for your attention in a chaotic world. How do they succeed or fail in that quagmire? Can they, or are they, distanced and isolated from the bad guys? What precisely does the Storm influence and how from mere marketing can they reach?
There are bad teams.
Teams change over time. The hippie teams of the chaotic seventies evolved into teams of Wall Street money jugglers. The eighties till today saw greed fuel economic disasters, over and over. Team Free Love led to Team Insider Trading. Works by Dr. Spock and Julia Child replaced Commie Manifestos. Bond Investing For Dummies and Investing Online For Dummies became instant hits as Mao’s Little Red Book hit the skids.
Team participation fell as we as individuals in wolf packs fought over the short-lived spoils of IPOs. Some invested in Icelandic banks that soon went belly-up. Others went for Russian mutual funds showing phenomenal growth until they mysteriously disappear to fund the expansion of child prostitution into Bend, OR.
Much earlier, the 1917 Team Bolshevik overthrow and knocked off a tyrant tsar. The early, relatively moderate policies changed into Team Gulag and Team Terror. Team CIA started as a rather glorious Team OSS in the 2nd World War, dropping agents into Nazi Europe with huge radios that rarely worked. That team’s glory evolved into a huge powerhouse hidden from public and political oversight. At times, details leaked out, revealing the disgrace of Bay of Pigs and countless other scandals. In other developments, every self-respecting community salivate over their SWAT Teams dressed up in black Waffen-SS styled uniforms. Somewhat like mini-CIAs, these outfits ensure the bad guys become dead and stay that way as long as possible.
CIA’s Soviet nemesis of Team KGB is no longer alive. Their agents are now security consultants rather than murderous goons. One man rose from the secret, shadowy KGB cellars to become the Premier of Russia. Relatively peaceful farmer teams in Afghanistan, Columbia and South East Asia were told to switch to a different and very deadly crop with a combined dollar volume beyond the total industrial output of many countries. Americans of every kind raved for higher highs than what Team Jim Bean could provide. Meanwhile, the Catholic Priests crossed lines no one should cross with repercussions coming far too slowly from a witless team of old men, irrevocably out of touch, from the Pope and down.
Jonestown cultists had a last drink of Kool-Aid on November 18, 1978 after years of unremarkable activity.Team FBI et al shot out the Branch Davidian in billowing smoke and fire on April 19, 1993. By then, the little known Davidians had been in the church business since the 1950s with roots going back to the 1930s. Few knew these teams existed. They were faceless failures until their Big and Last Moment. By chance, I was within miles of Waco that morning. My next encounter with madness: on March 26, 1997, I flew into San Diego. The news of the Team Heaven’s Gate mass suicide that day greeted me with too much deja vu feelings.
We need to be thankful for the Storm. They play to our innocence, isolating bad teams from our tortured minds. There is no worry about mass suicides, lawmaker betrayals or abuse of our kids. The Storm could have been just another entertaining venue. The Storm is more than that. They inspire, lead and teach. They show what a role model is to our kids. Other teams do the same, but the sight of Sue Bird showing up at some gathering of kids is impressive indeed. After all, they are not therapists, they are professional athletes poised to win basketball games, not the Nobel Peace Prize.
There are really bad teams but the Storm isn’t one of them.
What else about the Storm?
Of course, so far we considered only the Storm’s last season. They took a title in 2004, but then nothing till 2010. Perhaps, then, the Storm isn’t quite the only shooting star. Other teams, in sports and not, has matched the record. Team Taliban have their successes, for instance. So does Team Tea party to everyone’s astonishment, resentment or joy.
Thursday, September 16, 2010, the Storm won their WNBA championship. It was a gritty, relentless campaign from eliminating LA, then Phoenix to the end, Atlanta. I have not seen the intensity, focus and determination in any team ever before. It seemed to me that they shot better, ran better, defended better, hit more three pointers, fouled better and won better than any NBA team I remember
No other Seattle team comes close, on the court or off. Consider his off the court fame, Shawn Kemp was the guy hanging out in the late night bars and showing up for the game, if not drunk, with a royal hangover. Ruben Patterson and Dale Ellis are two guys not quite in control. Gary Payton went brawling in a Toronto strip club. Kobe Bryant got his pleasures in Colorado. How about Mel Gibson and Tiger Woods? I don’t know of a single WNBA player with similar reputations. Should personal behavior off the court count? In my book, yes indeed. Who would you buy a used car from? Those guys or Lauren Jackson? I would be happy to buy the Brooklyn Bridge from Sue Bird. Wouldn’t you?
Thursday, September 16, 2010, the Storm won their championship. Yes, I know I just said that. After watching the game – man, was that some game or not – I turned to the usual Internet news sites, eager for more detail and more celebration. I checked the newspapers. The usual coverage consisted of a single canned report, repeated here and there. Two days later, there is no coverage at all and so it is. As far as news go, the Storm does not exist. Now, American Idol is back in charge.
The players are gone, heading to Europe, Russia and other places, joining other teams in the WNBA off season. Not only are the players ignored by much of the public, they are also paid a fraction of what any mediocre NBA punk shovels in. Working year-around for several teams, a WNBA player is far from pay parity with the NBA, NFL, AFL, MLB, PGA, NHL and other crowds. They just work three times as hard for much less money. But that’s the American Way.
A FIBA world championship that just got going in the Czech Republic, did you know? Sue, Swin and Lauren are there but not on the same team. Both Australia and the US teams are heavy favorites. Both crushed their opponents in the first games. So either Sue and Swin will add to their bags of glory or it will be Lauren racking it up. That assumes the team of Senegal doesn’t pull off a spectacular upset. Who can tell? Check it out.
Did you watch the men’s version of the same championship, held in Turkey a little while ago? Me neither. As is just about mandatory, the US men’s team cruised to the title with Kevin Durant dragging the rest of the gang along. In general, the real stars are absent from these events, being too busy counting their money and sipping Pina Coladas. After all, it’s off season, a time for rest and party.
Is the Storm the best team ever? Scratch out the ever part, they were the best of the best for some glorious moments,. they rose to the top spanning a few months in 2010. No one can ever argue that away. They achieved something very precious. They rose to Greatness. Greatness is better than best. Greatness does not go stale; it is neither forgotten in minutes nor disputed by inferior minds. Greatness lasts. That’s what we’ll remember. Lauren, Sue, Swin and the rest are now in the league of Mohammed Ali, Babe Ruth and Lance Armstrong.
Thanks for your attention