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September 12, 2018

Sue Bird

Breanna Stewart

Natasha Howard

Seattle, Washington

Storm - 98, Mystics - 82

Q. Sue, this is the third time you've done this. What is it like at this age to have done this, and how does it compare with your earlier ones?
SUE BIRD: There's probably no comparison to be honest. Obviously each is special in its own way, but this one is probably going to have -- I don't know, just a different meaning for me because so many reasons that we already know, right, like I didn't know if I'd even be playing at this point. Our team went through a rebuild, and yes, I decided to stay, and once we got Jewell and Stewie, we knew we would get on the other side, but how do you know you're going to get on the other side this fast. We had some great additions along the way, obviously one sitting to my left. So it's incredible to be sitting here right now, I was just saying this earlier, I really believe it just came to me. This is probably going to be one of the defining moments of my career, to have played however many years I've been playing, to have won in all these places, but then to do it at the end in such a way that was different from all the others, it's really incredible.

I mean, Stewie and I joke, I don't know if I should even say this, but at the start of the season we lost to Phoenix at home, and we were like, oh, crap, what kind of year is this going to be, because it didn't -- we hadn't clicked yet. But pretty quickly, like a week later, we turned it right back around, and then onward and upward from there. You just never know. So to be here is incredible. Such a fun team to be around, such a fun team to play with, and I don't know, we did it the right way, and it just feels really good to be sitting here right now.

Q. Stewie, it seemed like you were playing as if you had been there before, even though this is your first close-out WNBA Finals game. I'm wondering whether it felt that way to you, and how much you think what you've done leading up to it is why they felt that way.
BREANNA STEWART: Honestly, it didn't feel like my first WNBA Finals close-out game. I think the way I looked at it was just another game. One game leads us to what we've been working for for four months, and just having that mindset. Obviously we went on our run, we were up early, we were up at halftime, but we knew D.C. was going to come back. Obviously playing on their home court, they were going to make some shots, do some things, but it was how we countered that, when things got close, when things got to eight. Sami hit some big threes, Sue hit big threes, Tash was all over the place, and that's what separated us again.

Q. Sue, as someone who has seen the ebbs and flows in this league, for Stewie to come in and do this just after turning 24, all the experience that she's had, do you feel like this is sort of an inflection point for the history of the league?
SUE BIRD: What do you mean?

Q. To have someone as young as she is already be as accomplished as she is and now to have that championship under her belt.
SUE BIRD: Well, yes, it says a lot about Stewie. I think coming into this season, she really just changed her mindset. She had goals, specific goals, and yeah, she had some individual ones, but I think she knew those individual goals, winning MVP, being dominant, or as dominant as possible, that was going to impact the team positively and probably lead us to where we are now. So I think it just speaks to Stewie. Obviously the kid knows how to win. Even though it hadn't been the WNBA yet, she clearly knows what it takes, and sometimes it just takes a couple of years to really figure out yourself in this league because it's a very tough league to play in, and now here she is. She's figured it out. It's probably going to get a little harder from here to be honest, but I think she's ready for it.

Q. Natasha, you're actually celebrating a championship the second year in a row, this year as a starter and a huge contributor. Can you just talk about that and the opportunity that you've had coming to Seattle?
NATASHA HOWARD: You know, the opportunity that I had with Minnesota playing behind great players, as well, learning behind some Olympians and bringing it over to Seattle, as well, it helped our team a lot with my experience being in the Final Four the past four years and also winning a championship last year, helping our teammate out and also with Sue, she had the experience, as well. It's just amazing. It's just a special group.

Q. Natasha, kind of playing off that, Kristi Toliver said that this group here reminded her what Minnesota had when they started their run and created their dynasty. Is that what you see going forward? Coach Hughes said you haven't hit the ceiling as far as accomplishments for this team.
NATASHA HOWARD: You know, I'm not going to compare it to Minnesota. We're the Seattle Storm. But yeah, like we just -- like I said before, we're special, and we still have a lot going for our next season, as well. During the off-season we know we're all going to put in the work and constantly keep developing our game and just keep growing as an individual.

Q. Stewie, how much -- you were jump started with USA Basketball, so you were playing with these guys before you were playing with these guys. How much did that really help? Last time we saw you win something as a youngster you made a couple guarantees. Do you want to make any other statements?
BREANNA STEWART: I think playing USA Basketball at a young age, being part of the national team when I was still in college, that was huge. Obviously being able to learn from the vets like Sue and Dee and the rest of them and kind of just showing me the ropes of things made me aware of what was going on in the league before I was actually in the league and kind of what I needed to do, especially my senior year, to make sure I was ready to go to the league and make an impact.

Second question, we're just going to enjoy this one right now, and we'll talk again come next season as far as expectations and goals?

Q. Who's the first person on the team who's going to be calling you guys up early in the morning saying, hey, let's hit the court and get ready for next year?
BREANNA STEWART: Can I get some days off first?

Q. Stewie, from the second you've entered this league, you got to learn from one of the greatest minds sitting next to you in Sue. What have you been able to pick from her brain over the past couple years that's gotten you to this point so quick?
BREANNA STEWART: Yeah, I think when people ask me that question, what I've gotten from Sue, I say everything, and it's honestly true. On-the-court stuff, off-the-court stuff, the way she's -- her basketball IQ is like no other, but the fact that what she does for her body, and I've kind of just tried to mimic that, especially this past year, working with the same person as her and really focusing in on how can I make sure that I'm prepared every single day, whether it's practice or games or that type of thing, and now doing that, it makes you want to win with her. Obviously when I came here as a rookie, I wanted to win a championship with her, but it's easy to say that. It's not as easy to do it and do it at the level that she was at.

Q. Breanna, you guys had a big lead for a good chunk of the game. They got it to single digits, then you were able to push back eight straight points and get the lead back up. What turned for you guys at that point and what did it say about your mindset that, hey, this is over, we're going to put this away?
BREANNA STEWART: You know, we knew at halftime when we were up whatever it was, 16, 15, whatever it was, that they were going to make a run, they were going to make a push. They're not in the Finals for no reason. Obviously D.C. is a great team, and what they have going is going to be exciting for them in the future.

But when it got to eight, we kind of -- we were calm. We had a calm presence about us. We knew it wasn't going to be easy. Sue told us in the huddle that it wasn't going to be easy basically, and it was just how we reacted, how we countered that, and we knew -- we got to this point for a reason, also, and it was Game 3 of the Finals, and we were going home with a championship.

Q. Sue, for everybody back home in Seattle, the crazies are going wild right now, they're ready to party, have a parade. Just some thoughts on what the city of Seattle has meant to you in this run. It's been a pretty incredible run the last few weeks.
SUE BIRD: Yeah, man, they've been everything. I think the best way to sum it up is when we made the Playoffs and we knew we were going to have home-court advantage, I didn't realize it at the time, but all of a sudden I was like, oh, my God, we haven't had a home playoff game since 2012, and then I was like, wait a minute, we had to play in Tacoma in -- yeah, 2013. I was like, we had to play in Tacoma. That doesn't even count. So we haven't had a home playoff game in KeyArena since 2012, and what did I say, I was like, guys, I'm so excited for you that you're going to be able to experience a Seattle home playoff game. And the fans didn't disappoint. The semis was amazing. Our first two games in the Finals was amazing. Just their support, the numbers. You had some big names come out and support us, as well, in the community. I don't know, just everything on social media, just everything about the way Seattle embraces us, the way they support us, it really allows us to play our best when we're at home. And that was evident.

I mean, Game 5 especially, who knows if we win that game if we're not at home. So I don't know. It's been an incredible journey in Seattle, and they deserve this. The fans deserve this.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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