Storm hand Sky 111-100 loss in Sue Bird’s final regular-season game in Chicago

Before the game, the Sky honored Bird with a pregame video and a pair of custom-made Nike Air Force 1 sneakers.

SHARE Storm hand Sky 111-100 loss in Sue Bird’s final regular-season game in Chicago
The Storm’s Sue Bird looks on during the game against the Sky Tuesday at Wintrust Arena.

The Storm’s Sue Bird looks on during the game against the Sky Tuesday at Wintrust Arena.

NBAE via Getty Images

One of Sky general manager/coach James Wade’s early years in the WNBA was spent as a practice player for the Storm. His wife, Edwige Lawson-Wade, played for the Storm, and Wade relished the opportunity to compete against them to stay in shape for his overseas career.

One of the players he went up against was guard Sue Bird.

In 2006, the summer Wade spent with the Storm, Bird was in her fifth year in the league and already a force with a WNBA championship to her name. The Sky, by comparison, were in their first season in the league.

Wade recalls hounding Bird, putting full-court pressure on her in an attempt to make things as difficult as possible for her.

‘‘Trying to guard me is what it was,’’ Bird, 41, recalled in July, laughing. ‘‘There was just something about him. He was always paying attention, always observing and always around. So as he kind of climbed through and eventually got that head-coaching job, none of it was surprising.’’

Wade said the trash talk was abundant, and Bird returned the favor. For years, she joked with him about an old Honda Accord he drove.

‘‘Even after I left Seattle, she used to ask me if I traded in that car,’’ Wade said.

The memories extend beyond that summer and into overseas experiences, as Bird and Lawson-Wade shared the court in Europe. The WNBA is a tight-knit community, and the friendship between Wade and Bird is one example of that.

Sky star Candace Parker spent years playing with Bird for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia. Her daughter Lailaa fondly called Bird ‘‘Auntie Sue.’’ Guard Courtney Vandersloot doesn’t have memories of sharing the court with Bird, but she has countless as her adversary.

‘‘We obviously played against each other a lot,’’ Vandersloot said. ‘‘I learned she’ll expose you if you aren’t on your top game, and she’s still doing that.’’

On Tuesday, the Storm exposed the inconsistency of the Sky’s defense, beating them 111-100 at Wintrust Arena in Bird’s final regular-season game in Chicago.

The Sky struggled to limit the Storm’s points in the paint in the first half, getting outscored 44-26 inside in the first two quarters. They trailed by 20 points midway through the third and went into the fourth trailing by 11.

Led by Vandersloot, who finished with a game-high 28 points, the Sky got as close as eight points in the fourth but couldn’t overcome the Storm’s offensive superiority. The Storm shot 58.7% from the field, including 45.8% from three-point range, and were perfect from the free-throw line. The Sky, meanwhile, shot 55.7% from the field but only 30.4% from behind the arc.

Kahleah Copper added 17 points, Parker 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Rebekah Gardner 12 points for the Sky.

‘‘I wouldn’t say this is a wakeup call,’’ Gardner said. ‘‘We know what we need to do. This is a good game that told us going back-to-back is not going to be easy.’’

Before the game, the Sky honored Bird with a pregame video and a pair of custom-made Nike Air Force 1 sneakers. The Storm’s Briann January, who is set to retire after a 14-year career, was honored with her own highlight video.

Bird finished with 10 points, eight assists and three steals. Breanna Stewart led the Storm with 25 points, and former Sky forward Gabby Williams added 21.

The Sky still hold the No. 1 seed in the WNBA, but they could drop to No. 2 with losses Thursday to the Aces and Sunday to the Mercury. Regardless of whether they finish first or second, however, they will be back at Wintrust Arena for Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs next Wednesday.

Wade addressed the sellout crowd before heading back to the locker room.

‘‘We are going to do everything in our power to put [another championship banner] up there,’’ he said.

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