It’s been almost two full years since former UConn star Breanna Stewart cut down the nets in her second pro season with the Seattle Storm and claimed Finals MVP honors. After suffering a torn achillies while playing overseas in 2019, Stewart worked tirelessly to get back with her Storm teammates. And while the COVID-19 pandemic caused her return to be a little later than expected, Stewart looked like her old self in the Storm’s season opener in the wubble agains the New York Liberty.
Stewie scored 18 points and added eight rebounds and four steals in a team-high 28 minutes to help Seattle take down the Liberty 87-71. As usual, she was a dominant force on the boards and controlled the game on both ends to help the Storm take down a highly-hyped New York squad led by this year’s top draft pick, Sabrina Ionescu.
“She was aggressive at both ends of the floor she changed some shots and, you know, I thought she really looked good for not having played really for quite a while,” Storm interim head coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “Excellent job by her out there scrambling hustling getting on the floor for loose balls.”
While Stewart didn’t record a block in her first game back, she was still an imposing presence on the defensive end with her four steals, including this backtap to set up an easy layup in the second quarter.
Pickpocketed #StrongerThanEver pic.twitter.com/KnNO7hZ3cU— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) July 25, 2020
Stewart also used her return to make a statement. She took the court in custom shoes demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year old Black EMT from Louisville, Kentucky who was shot to death by police officers while she was asleep in her own home. To shine a light on this important issue, Stewart’s custom Nike Air Zoom BB NXT sneakers read “Say Her Name” on one side and signs of protest on the other, saying “Black Lives Matter,” “Time For Change,” and “Together We Can.”
Stewart was rejoined by fellow UConn alumna Sue Bird, who also missed last season due to injury. The two quickly got
Sue ➡️ Stewie. Don't be afraid, be terrified. #StrongerThanEver pic.twitter.com/1tC1gf1baH— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) July 25, 2020
Bird finished the day with 11 points, five assists and no turnovers, and looked as comfortable as ever at the helm of the Storm offense. With Bird and Stewart both looking like their old selves, the Storm should once again be in good position to contend for their fourth WNBA title, especially with a slightly shorter season in the bubble.