Showdown in Seatown

Today is the day when it’s decided: will the Seattle Storm exit the playoffs in the first round for the fifth year in a row, or will Lisa Leslie end her long career in a city that loathes her?

Given the Storm’s injuries and the Sparks’ meltdowns, the game could go either way. I’m not even going to guess.

The Seattle Times has no game preview story this morning, but the LA Times does.

Storm fans hate LA for good reason: the beginning years of the franchise were during the Sparks’ thuggin days, when Leslie, Delisha Milton, Latasha Byears and Mwaki Mabika would sooner slap, hit or elbow a player than post her up or guard her. And it was when Tamecka Dixon would run up and down the Key Arena court taunting fans. I still have an old VHS tape of a 2002 game at Staples Center where Leslie clotheslined Storm guard Michelle Marciniak, and the refs called the foul on MM.

But one thing I picked up while still living in Seattle was confirmed once I moved here: LA fans and the Sparks players don’t hate the Storm back. In fact, they don’t seem to understand the depth of the Seattle hatred, or why it’s even there. To Sparks players and fans, they were just playing basketball in those glory days of domination and two championships.

Thus, it’s not a true rivalry in the classic sense, because if it were, the loathing on both sides would be equal. And in order for that to happen Seattle would have to make itself more hate-able, because the only Storm player Sparks fans seem to despise is center Lauren Jackson. It’s kinda hard for them to hate on nice-girl Sue Bird, or any of the other players, because they don’t say much.

Game time is at 2 p.m., so I best get my workout done.