the team stays in Seattle, it’s a no-brainer. If the team were to move, that would be difficult for me to predict.”
Bird is taking a wait-and-see approach, expressing little surprise at the news and little consternation over the current uncertainty.
“There are so many different scenarios that can play out that it’s just not even worth stressing about or thinking about,” she said. “If this is a group of people that are really excited about buying the Sonics and Storm and want to move forward, then I’m excited about that.
“I’m all for having a successful franchise. Right now we’re in Seattle, so that’s where my focus is.”
Bird said she would be sad to leave the city, but that getting to play basketball for a living is too great an opportunity to complain about location.
Jackson, on the other hand, is feverishly loyal to Seattle. This past April, the former league MVP departed from a previous pattern of one-year deals to sign for three years with the Storm, naming the city as a primary factor in that decision. Her comments suggested a move elsewhere would end her WNBA career.
“I’ve got no desire to play anywhere else in America,“ she said at the time. “If it so should happen that I get traded or anything like that, then I’d pretty much have to say I wouldn’t come back.”
Jackson could not be reached Wednesday.
The Storm would likely retain most of its other players in a move to the Midwest, including second-leading scorer Betty Lennox, who is from Oklahoma City. But the potential losses could necessitate a massive rebuilding effort, a difficult proposition in an untested market.
For fans in Seattle, the loss would represent the second departure of a professional women’s basketball team in the last decade. The Seattle Reign folded in 1998 with the economic downfall of the American Basketball League.
Donovan also endured the collapse of an ABL team, her Philadelphia Rage suddenly closing its doors without even notifying the staff.
For 10 years, the WNBA has replaced such chaos with considerable stability. Commissioner Donna Orender has called Seattle a model market for the league - solid fan base, quality product, committed ownership.
Those elements are now in doubt.
“In Charlotte, the ownership group did not believe in the product,” Donovan recalled. “It was a constant feel of slim pickings and had a stepsister kind of feel to it.
“Seattle has been so opposite. That’s a huge selling point for me when we talk to free agents. Hopefully, the new ownership group brings as much positivity.”