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Bob's Corner: Seattle storming into a new frontier

BOB'S CORNER: The WNBA'S Seattle Storm - the local team for our US correspondent Bob Craven and former home of Lauren Jackson - is not just one of the league's premier franchises on the court. Now it is moving on facilitating even better facilities and our own Ezi Magbegor is a fan of the moves as Bob reports: 

THE WNBA's Seattle Storm announced this week some significant news, which could have much wider local appeal down the road.

The Storm ownership group announced that they will be constructing a state-of-the-art training facility, near the waters of Puget Sound just north of the downtown area. 

It will be called the Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance.

Construction is scheduled to begin next year and is expected to be completed before training camp for the 2024 season (March-April of that year). And, while I could be wrong, I don't think other WNBA teams have their own dedicated facility like this will be. 

The facility will be privately financed by the ownership group, and it will cost something north of US$60million.  As one of the co-owners said, "Go big or go home".

The practice facility design includes two side-by-side basketball courts, locker rooms, a lounge, a nutrition centre, strength and conditioning training spaces, as well as diagnostics and physical therapy rooms. 

The new building will also be headquarters for the Storm executive and business staff.  Storm coach Noelle Quinn said, "I think about free agency and the chance to lure players in here with a state-of-the-art facility."

Storm and Opals centre Ezi Magbegor, who is eligible for a long-term contract after this season, also mentioned that same point, adding, "Absolutely, you want to go somewhere that you like to be in ... playing in the new Climate Pledge Arena (a US$1.15 billion multi-purpose coliseum and where the Storm currently play home games) will attract players, but when you have your own training facility, it just makes it more professional and somewhere you want to play."

Magbegor is likely to receive both a long-term deal and significant pay raise after this season.

HALF of the NBA Finals set as of Thursday night when the Golden State Warriors beat the Dallas Mavericks 120-110 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, taking the series 4-1. 

One half of the Splash Brothers, our former Washington State Cougar, Klay Thompson, led the way with 19 first-half points as they rolled to a 17-point first half lead, and waltzed it in from there without a problem—superstar Luca Doncic for Dallas couldn’t do it all by himself. 

He tried, thought, but was only 2-of-10 from the floor in the first quarter, and despite a late push in the second half, Dallas was done.

Thompson missed most of the past two seasons to injuries and only returned to playing relatively recently.  Steph Curry, the other Splash Brother, was content to play second fiddle in this one, and just feed the hot hand of Thompson. 

Curry finished with 15 points and nine assists.  The Warriors are the first team to make six finals appearances in an eight-year period since Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to a pair of three-peats from 1991-1993 and 1996-1998.

The Warriors’ opponents in the Finals will be decided when the Miami Heat take on the Boston Celtics in Miami in a deciding Game 7.  The Finals will start next Thursday.

A couple of anniversaries from 16 years ago:

2006-The Detroit Pistons hold the Cleveland Cavaliers to the lowest point total ever in a Game 7 in NBA history, and they advance to their fourth straight Eastern Conference Final with a 79-61  ictory.

2006-Pat Summitt becomes the newest millionaire basketball coach-and the first ever in women's basketball.  The University of Tennessee raises her salary to US$1.125 million per season for the next seven years.

A couple of recent hoops anniversaries:

1981—Julius Erving, universally-known as Dr. J., is named MVP of the NBA, making him the only player ever to win MVP honours in both the NBA and the ABA.

1987—I watched this game and this play on the tube, and it remains one of the most consequential and amazing plays I’ve ever seen.  With less than two seconds left in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, and trailing by a point, Larry Bird of the Celtics steals an inbounds pass from Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons, then sends a no-look, over-the-shoulder pass to a slashing Dennis Johnson for the winning basket as the Celtics pull out an improbable 108-107 win, giving them a 3-2 lead in the series.  The Celtics would go on to defeat the Pistons in seven games to three, then lose to Magic Johnson and the Lakers in the Finals in six games.

Candace Parker, a 193cm forward of the WNBA defending champion Chicago Sky, became at age 36 the oldest WNBA player ever to score a triple double. 

In a win over the Washington Mystics, she scored 16 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and dished out 10 assists in 30 minutes.

And congrats to Matisse Thybulle, who went to high school and university here in Seattle. He was named to the All-NBA Defensive 2nd team for the 2nd year in a row. 

Not bad, considering he plays significantly fewer minutes than anyone else selected.  He is truly a disruptor on that end of the floor.

May 28

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