As Breanna Stewart put it: Coming back to Seattle “feels good, but it’s also very strange.”
SEATTLE – SEATTLE (AP) – Breanna Stewart put it in a nutshell: Coming back to Seattle “feels good, but it’s also very strange.”
Stewart was back at the Climate Pledge Arena Tuesday as the New York Liberty took on the Seattle Storm. It was her first visit to the building as a visitor and her first trip back as a player since she announced earlier this year that she was signing a one-year contract with the Liberty as a free agent, making her the only WNBA city to call home had left behind since joining the league in 2016.
“It was a really difficult decision to leave Seattle for New York — and it’s still difficult when I think about it,” Stewart said ahead of the Liberty-Storm game. “After I finished Fenerbache, I flew back here because that’s where my house and all our things are. It was those moments when you had a bit of self-doubt. I see all my friends and all the places I’ve worked.
But Stewart said she’s excited for the new chapter in New York. She held talks with the Liberty in the off-season leading up to the 2022 season before eventually re-signing with the Storm for a year. Seattle reached the WNBA semifinals before losing to Las Vegas.
“Change isn’t always a bad thing. I still have a lot of great memories. I grew up here, got married here, raised a family here,” Stewart said.
It was Seattle that secured Stewart as the #1 pick overall in the 2016 draft. She then led the team to the 2018 and 2020 WNBA Championships. In both years she was the WNBA Finals MVP and in 2018 she was also the league MVP.
In her seven seasons with the Storm, Stewart averaged 20.3 points per game. Stewart was greeted with a bit of cheering from the audience during the pre-game performance.
By the time Stewart arrived in New York, the team had already acquired 2021 league MVP Jonquel Jones from Connecticut. The day after Stewart’s announcement, veteran point guard Courtney Vandersloot also signed with New York.
The Liberty lost their opening game in Washington 80-64 but then overtook Indiana (90-73) and Connecticut (81-65) before moving on to Seattle. In the Indiana game, Stewart scored a career- and franchise-record 45 points.
New York is considered the main opponent of the defending champion Las Vegas.
“Obviously we want to win and fight for a championship,” said Stewart. “But it’s about realizing that if you put all those pieces together in a short space of time, it’s going to take time to make sure we win the day. We have to develop one training session, one game at a time.”