Sue Chook turns 40: The evolution and revolution of Seattle’s level guard

How did a lady from Syosset, New York, who as soon as claimed soccer as her old flame change into one of the vital profitable basketball gamers on this planet?

Sue Chook has received at each stage, and the Seattle Storm level guard simply added to an already overflowing trophy case 10 days in the past with her fourth WNBA championship.

However Friday, Chook reaches one other milestone: It is her fortieth birthday.

From successful state titles at Christ the King and two NCAA crowns at UConn to capturing 4 WNBA titles and 4 Olympic gold medals, Chook has celebrated championships across the globe.

And whereas the WNBA’s all-time assists chief acquired shoutouts from LeBron James as he additionally closed in on a fourth title in his seventeenth season, her legacy extends off the courtroom. Chook helped shepherd a historic collective bargaining settlement final January and spearheaded social justice issues within the WNBA bubble this previous season.

We glance again on the legend of Sue Chook.


The way it began

Little did Suzanne Brigit Chook from Lengthy Island know simply how far she’d go on a basketball courtroom. Child Chook performed AAU ball — proven within the picture under at a women 11-and-under nationwide championship in 1992, simply three years earlier than the UConn girls would win their first nationwide championship.

Chook has all the time been a gradual, constant participant on the courtroom, however like Seattle teammate Breanna Stewart, tends to come back up large when the sport is on the road.

Simply days earlier than Chook and the Storm accomplished a sweep of the Las Vegas Aces within the WNBA Finals on Oct. 6, UConn coach Geno Auriemma stated nobody was higher ready.

“Sue’s been coaching for these moments each single day since her rookie 12 months,” Auriemma stated throughout a Zoom media name. “Some individuals do not have the stamina to have the ability to do this. They do not have the self-discipline to do this.”

Serving to the Huskies return to the highest

Chook’s freshman season at UConn was lower quick by an ACL tear, suffered simply eight video games into 1998-99. However she rapidly made an affect when she returned to the courtroom. Chook averaged 10.9 factors and 4.3 assists as a sophomore, serving to the Huskies go 36-1 and win the NCAA title. These days the Huskies are synonymous with good seasons and three-peats, however at this level it was solely the second nationwide championship for UConn.


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On the time, nothing was greater in girls’s faculty basketball than the UConn-Tennessee rivalry, and so they met three times that season. In her first recreation within the collection, Chook scored 25 factors on 8-for-10 taking pictures because the Huskies received a January 2000 assembly in Knoxville, Tennessee. A month later, the Girl Vols repaid the favor, ruining what had been an ideal season to that time with a one-point win in Storrs, Connecticut. However UConn acquired the final giggle that season, simply beating Tennessee within the closing in Philadelphia, Auriemma’s hometown.

“I believe the collection helped set up my identification as a participant,” Chook instructed ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel final 12 months. “As somebody who, hopefully, makes their teammates higher and when wanted can provide you with large performs and large photographs.”

One of the best NCAA championship workforce ever?

Now we’re beginning to see the beginnings of the subsequent dynasty in girls’s faculty basketball. The 2001-02 UConn workforce, which had Chook and three different seniors (Swin Money, Asjha Jones and Tamika Williams) within the beginning lineup, is essentially considered the perfect in girls’s faculty basketball historical past. The Huskies went 39-0 and steamrolled opponents by a 35.4 common margin of victory, with only one single-digit win.

Chook, with then-sophomore Diana Taurasi beside her within the UConn backcourt, averaged 14.4 factors and 5.9 assists and was the consensus Nationwide Participant of the 12 months, successful the Wade Trophy and Naismith Award. Chook, proven under celebrating with Auriemma throughout a victory parade by way of Hartford, Connecticut, went 114-4 at UConn.

Lower than three weeks later, Chook was the No. 1 decide within the WNBA draft — and Money, Jones and Williams additionally have been chosen throughout the first six picks of the primary spherical.

Led by Taurasi, the Huskies would go on to win three consecutive titles (2002-04) for simply the second three-peat in girls’s faculty basketball historical past.

Prestigious pack of level guards

It did not take the remainder of the nation lengthy to place Chook on par with level guard royalty within the skilled ranks. In the course of the 2003 NBA All-Star Weekend, Chook lined up alongside the Seattle SuperSonics’ Gary Payton, the New Jersey Nets’ Jason Kidd, the Phoenix Suns’ Stephon Marbury and the San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker earlier than the Abilities Problem.

Chook is a lock — and sure first-ballot selection — to hitch The Glove and J-Kidd within the Naismith Memorial Basketball Corridor of Fame when she retires.

The Greek squad

The 2004 WNBA common season went on hiatus in August that 12 months because the Athens Olympics have been held. Lisa Leslie, Daybreak Staley and Sheryl Swoopes headlined Crew USA as children like Chook, Taurasi, Money and Tamika Catchings made their Olympic debuts. Chook was an understudy as Staley capped her USA Basketball profession, coming off the bench in seven of eight video games because the Individuals received their third consecutive gold medal.

Nevertheless it laid the inspiration for the long run. The torch was handed, and by 2008, Chook was a daily starter for the Olympic workforce, including gold medals within the 2008 Beijing Video games, 2012 London Video games and 2016 Rio Video games.

Chook is 142-6 all-time when competing for Crew USA.

Make it a double

A month-and-a-half after successful gold, Chook and the Storm introduced a title again to Seattle for the primary time for the reason that Sonics’ 1979 championship.

The Storm’s first title was a couple of years within the making. In 2001, Seattle drafted Australian submit Lauren Jackson (holding trophy with Chook, under) with the No. 1 decide. Chook arrived in 2002. And coach Anne Donovan took the reins in 2003.

The Storm went 18-16 in Donovan’s first season. In 2004, Seattle added taking pictures guard Betty Lennox with the sixth decide within the dispersal draft after the Cleveland Rockers franchise disbanded, and every part slowly fell into place because the season unfolded.

Seattle truly completed second within the Western Convention behind the Los Angeles Sparks, and limped into the playoffs having misplaced six of its closing 9 video games of the common season when the league resumed after the Olympic break. The Storm swept Minnesota within the best-of-three Western Convention semifinals, however issues acquired more durable from there. Regardless of dropping the opening recreation in extra time of the Western Convention finals in opposition to Sacramento, Seattle rallied to succeed in the WNBA Finals, the place it once more misplaced the opening recreation however then received two straight to beat the Connecticut Solar.

Donovan grew to become the primary feminine coach to win a WNBA title. Chook averaged 12.9 factors and 5.4 assists.

A world away

Chook started taking part in abroad in Russia through the WNBA offseason in 2004. After two seasons with Dynamo Moscow, she signed with Spartak Moscow. Owned by one-time Soviet Union spy Shabtai von Kalmanovic, the gamers lived a life of luxury with salaries that far exceeded what they have been paid to play within the WNBA. The rosters have been equally lavish, even Dream Crew-esque, as gamers resembling Lauren Jackson, Taurasi, Tina Thompson and Chook (under, from left, with von Kalmanovic center) teamed as much as sweep Russian Tremendous League and EuroLeague titles.

In 2011, Chook made the transfer to UMMC Ekaterinburg, the place she added three extra consecutive titles within the Russian League.

Sweep-stakes

Seattle misplaced within the Western Convention semifinals for 5 consecutive years following its 2004 title. However when the 2010 postseason arrived, the Storm did not lose a recreation.

First got here a 2-0 sweep of the Los Angeles Sparks within the semis, adopted by a 2-0 sweep of the Phoenix Mercury within the convention finals. Seattle added three extra straight victories over Atlanta within the WNBA Finals to return to the highest of the WNBA.

Seattle’s Lauren Jackson additionally swept regular-season and WNBA Finals MVP honors that season, however Chook had her large moments, too, en path to Seattle’s second championship.

In Sport 2 of the Western Convention finals, Seattle overcame a 19-point deficit, and Chook had an help, a block, a rebound after which hit a 24-foot jumper with 2.8 seconds left for the win. And in Sport 1 of the WNBA Finals, Chook’s 18-footer was the game-winner with 2.6 seconds to play.

In one of the vital iconic photographs in Storm historical past, Chook leaped into Jackson’s arms on Atlanta’s dwelling courtroom to have a good time the title.

Taking inventory

Chook credit a strict weight loss plan and exercise routine for her longevity. And although she sat out the 2013 and 2019 seasons after knee surgical procedures, she holds a number of profession marks.

On Sept. 1, 2017, Chook grew to become the WNBA’s all-time assists chief, breaking Ticha Penicheiro’s mark. By means of this previous season, Chook has 2,888 assists.

Chook ranks eighth within the WNBA in profession factors (6,262), and is the WNBA chief in profession begins (519; she has by no means come off the bench) and profession minutes (16,430).

She has appeared in a WNBA-record 11 All-Star video games, and ranks first in playoff appearances (14).

‘Profession-defining second’

In Sport 5 of the 2018 WNBA semifinals, the top-seeded Storm have been trailing the Phoenix Mercury getting into the fourth quarter. Chook wasn’t taking pictures effectively, lacking eight straight photographs at one level and was 1-for-6 on 3-pointers by way of three intervals.

Enter Breanna Stewart. The regular-season MVP reminded Chook, “Sue, use your legs.” Chook — who was carrying a masks to guard the damaged nostril she had suffered in a recreation simply two days earlier — knew Stewie was proper.

“Quite a lot of the photographs I had been taking in that third quarter, I used to be actually quick,” stated Chook, who was 37 on the time. “I am glad Stewie jogged my memory of that.”


Associated: Sue Bird’s top five clutch moments: Masked heroics, game winners and monster quarters


Over the ultimate six minutes of the sport, Chook hit 5-of-6 photographs and scored 14 of her 22 points within the fourth quarter, serving to Seattle clinch a spot within the WNBA Finals. Bird later called it a “career-defining second.”

Seattle went on to comb the Washington Mystics within the WNBA Finals and Chook — who averaged a career-best 7.1 assists per recreation within the common season — was a champion once more. Stewart, the Finals MVP, wore the shirt above through the Storm’s championship parade.

The definition of an influence couple

Fast, identify a cooler couple in sports activities. Did not assume so.

Chook revealed she was homosexual and relationship U.S. Soccer and Seattle Reign star Megan Rapinoe in an ESPN story in 2017. Days later, Rapinoe sat courtside when the Seattle Storm hosted the WNBA All-Star Sport. Since, they grew to become the first gay couple to pose in ESPN The Journal’s Physique Difficulty (2018) and set the bar each for his or her sports activities dominance and dedication to social justice points.

In 2019, Chook cheered on Rapinoe in France as she received high participant honors and captained the U.S. girls’s nationwide workforce to the Girls’s World Cup title. And this summer time, Rapinoe lived with Chook within the WNBA bubble in Bradenton, Florida.

However whether or not they’re calling for unity against racial injustice as hosts of the 2020 ESPYs with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, or merely hanging courtside on the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend (under), they’re a world-class athlete energy couple whose recognition has spawned “Rapinoe-Chook 2020” T-shirts.

Let Russ … pay homage to Chook

Feminine athletes by no means want male athletes to justify them. However when one of many main NFL MVP candidates arrives to his Sunday Evening Soccer recreation — and his postgame information convention — carrying Chook’s Storm jersey, it is value taking discover.

And listening. As a result of Russell Wilson not solely wore Chook’s jersey backward so her identify and quantity have been simply seen, the Seattle QB likened himself to Chook, who had voiced a minute-long segment that NBC aired previous to the sport calling for “Russ for MVP.”

The Seahawks trailed the Minnesota Vikings by 5 factors when Wilson orchestrated a 94-yard drive within the closing 1 minute, 57 seconds, together with a 39-yard completion on fourth-and-10. Seattle received on Wilson’s 6-yard landing move to DK Metcalf with 15 seconds to play.

When requested in regards to the game-winning drive, Wilson responded: “I really feel like Sue Chook within the clutch.”

The way it’s going

In 2015, the Storm chosen Notre Dame star Jewell Loyd with the No. 1 draft decide. The next 12 months, contemporary off of 4 consecutive NCAA titles, Stewart grew to become the subsequent No. 1 total decide to come back to Seattle.

However one thing else necessary occurred round that point: Although free company loomed, Chook determined to remain put and re-signed a multiyear take care of the Storm in February 2016.

Now Seattle has received two titles in three seasons, and sure would be the preseason favourite in 2021.

Will there be extra locker room champagne celebrations in Chook’s future? Chook, who was restricted to 11 regular-season video games this season attributable to knee points but additionally averaged a career-best 9.2 assists per recreation within the playoffs, has stated she hopes to play by way of the 2021 calendar 12 months, which would come with her 18th WNBA season and her fifth Olympics.

“The way in which I really feel proper now, if I can undergo my offseason and proceed to construct on that in a great way,” Chook stated following Seattle’s title, “I do not see why I will not be taking part in subsequent summer time.”

Now that might be a present for us all.

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