Fan Interview Friday: There's A Storm Brewing
The Seattle Storm have been a Professional Basketball team for 21 years, and Sasha Falsberg has been a fan for nearly that entire stretch. Her first game was back in 2004, at age eight, and she remembers the feelings of inspiration and excitement at seeing them play. “It was really cool to see these badass women playing and winning awards”, said Sasha -- especially since the most well-known women’s sports figures at the time were the US Women’s National Soccer Team. But after her time at the game and as she grew older, the Seattle Storm would start gaining notoriety in the city as a team that was not to be trifled with.
Though Sasha’s appreciation for the Storm started at a young age, she did not truly lead into the obsession she currently has with them until about two years ago, right as the beginning of COVID was happening. “I needed some form of entertainment, and I was sitting with my roommate’s boyfriend, who was all about the NBA, and I scrolled past a post of Sue Bird on Instagram and was like, ‘Yeah, okay. Let’s watch these.’” Since then, she has become a fully dedicated fan to the Storm, attending games whenever possible and cheering them on either by watching or wearing Storm gear on game days.
When it comes to rivalries in the WNBA, the slightly smaller 12-team roster allows for more opportunities to play against other teams and players, creating far more opportunities to spark rivalries. “It varies year to year,” Sasha explains. “The Storm are probably the most successful franchise in WNBA history” (checks out, they’re tied with two other teams for most championships, the Houston Comets and the Minnesota Lynx), which naturally makes them a target for any and every team that they face. However, right now Sasha feels the Phoenix Mercury hold the number one rival spot. This matchup includes two absolute titans of the league, former UConn teammates Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, playing for the Seattle Storm and Phoenix Mercury, respectively. These two women are the only two Olympic basketball players in history to win 5 gold medals, have won seven WNBA championship titles between the two of them (Bird won her fourth last year), and are still actively playing and dominating in the league this season.
“Oh and the Las Vegas Aces,” Sasha notes, as an afterthought. “They’re a bunch of assholes and have the worst coach ever -- being super aggressive and making that be their M.O.” The Aces have only been around for two seasons, but it seems they’ve already developed a reputation around the league for being one of the least-likeable of the franchises.
As far as memorable moments go for Sasha and the Storm, the 2018 WNBA Finals instantly comes to mind. It was Game 5 (the WNBA does a best of 5 series rather than a best of 7) against, shockingly, the Phoenix Mercury. The game is legendary for a multitude of reasons, but the most notable was Sue Bird breaking her nose on her teammate Breanna Stewart's elbow the game before, had to wear that famous face mask we’ve seen on NBA players like Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant, and just popped off at an astronomical level. She hit four back-to-back 3-pointers to mount the comeback, win the game and ultimately the championship, while at her home stadium. Seattle fans went bonkers, and the win may have been an influential factor in the team’s relocation to the Climate Pledge Arena, where they will share playing space with the Seattle Kraken.
When it comes to her craziest moments from being a storm fan at a game, Sasha recalls a home game she attended where one of her favorite players, Alysha Clark, was taking a free throw and the home crowd was giving her a respectful silence. “It was one of my first games back and I yelled out ‘I LOVE YOU AC’ in the total silence and, like, everyone heard it. But it was okay because I love her and also because she made the shot,” she explains. “Oh yeah and I was definitely drunk for that.” You don’t say. It sounds like most Storm fans have not been taking notes from the Bills Mafia, that’s for sure. Either way, the atmosphere at home games is electric, even during the pandemic, as fans are starting to be allowed into stadiums again.
For favorite players, Alysha Clark sits atop Sasha’s list as number one, despite her currently being on the Washington Mystics. She was a leader for the Storm, a huge playmaker, and just an overall positive influence on the team. Despite her insistence that she has no least favorite players on the team, Sasha admits that she finds herself yelling at shooting guard Jordin Canada a lot. “She’s our second PG under Sue Bird. And it’s not that I hate her but she’s just so inconsistent,” Sasha rants. “She played well for Sue Bird in 2019 when she was out, but this girl can’t shoot the 3, she doesn’t have a mid range shot, and yes she has some moves in the post because she’s so fast and gets to the free throw line but sometimes it's like ‘Canada, just PASS the ball please don’t shoot!’, you know?” I think that’s something we can all relate to, if you’re a player or even just a fan of the game.
As kick-ass as the Seattle Storm are, and despite them being the most successful sports franchise in the history of the city, Sasha says it can still be difficult to find fellow fans around her. She says there are definitely a few folks who are hardcore fans like her -- some neighbors are season ticket holders and have taken her to games in the past. But unfortunately for Sasha and her fellow storm fans, the reality is most people don’t seem to care for the Storm and instead follow the Seahawks, Mariners, and Sounders. As the work winds down on the new Storm/Kraken arena, maybe the increase in access and fan capacity will see Seattle’s most successful team see more of the limelight, but for now, Sasha is content rooting for them and happy to yell at any size screen she finds herself watching the game on, big or small, just like a true fan does.