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Thursday, June 15, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM


Storm Notes: Bird hopes Sonics stay put

Seattle Times staff reporter

MINNEAPOLIS — Storm guard Sue Bird was saddened after seeing a note in USA Today stating residents in Seattle would rather see the Sonics leave Seattle than use tax money to renovate KeyArena, according to results from a telephone survey.

The Storm and Sonics share owners, who have stated in the past that they would not sell off the WNBA franchise. That means both teams would depart Seattle if their demands aren't met.

"I'm a resident and I don't want to see them go," said Bird, who owns a duplex in Queen Anne. "Separate of the Storm, even, I think the Sonics are great for Seattle. I think a NBA franchise is great for any city."

Said Storm coach Anne Donovan: "I think the city would miss this team, the Sonics and the Storm. They may not realize it, but there would be a hole.

"There's been a lot of talk about salaries, and the problems that professional athletes have are always publicized, so the glamour of the person that's the professional athlete has been lost. ... We're the prototype of a professional athlete that you want your kids to emulate. There's so much good stuff around the WNBA, it would really be unfortunate if the Storm and Sonics were to leave the city."

There already is some concern about the Storm losing Bird, who is in the final year of her contract. She'll be a restricted free agent after the season, so even if she is offered a whopper of a deal from another team needing a point guard — say, the Liberty in her native New York — the Storm could match the bid.

"I feel very loyal [to Seattle]," Bird said. "I know it's sports and it's a business and anything could happen and I leave all that to my agents, but I don't see why it wouldn't work out where I'd stay in Seattle."

Player of the game: This would be Minnesota's Seimone Augustus, if it weren't for guard Shaunzinski Gortman's defense. Gortman held Augustus scoreless in the final 3:19 to help Seattle end its three-game road skid. She finished with four points, five rebounds and two steals — all in the second half.

Reserve of the game: With Lauren Jackson triple-teamed and Janell Burse (stomach flu) ailing, Storm center Tiffani Johnson slid into the rotation to provide a season-high 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting. She also had four rebounds.

Digits: Augustus was one bucket from breaking guard Sue Bird's rookie scoring record of 33, set in August 2002. Augustus had a career-high 32, her second 30-plus-point game of the season.

Next: At Chicago, 5 p.m. today, UCI Pavilion.

Early returns

Bird is the fourth overall leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game, based on balloting returns released Wednesday. She leads Western Conference guards with 23,625 votes, while Lauren Jackson is second among forwards with 19,647. Both would be starters if voting ended today.

Janell Burse, the Storm's other strong candidate to make the All-Star team, is fourth among centers with 5,796. Guard Betty Lennox has totaled 5,778 votes.

Fan voting continues until June 25.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company



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