Kevin Pelton, StormBasketball.com | August 20, 2012
For the second time in a week, Sue Bird has returned to Seattle Storm's practice. Not long after traveling from London to Seattle to transition from the Olympics to the stretch run of the WNBA season, Bird was hit by a mysterious illness that left her queasy. She was forced to leave the Storm's win over the Phoenix Mercury in the second quarter and missed Saturday's loss to the Los Angeles Sparks.
"I just did not feel well at all," said Bird. "I think flu is the easiest way to explain it."
On Monday, after the team took a day off, Bird was back on the floor as a full participant while the Storm prepared to face the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx on Tuesday (7:00 p.m., ESPN2, 1090 AM, ). Bird anticipates being in the starting lineup for that game.
Neil Enns/Storm Photos
Bird will be back at the controls of the Storm offense on Tuesday.
"I feel better," she said. "I think sometimes it just takes some time. I'm a little tired. Otherwise, I feel better and I'm looking forward to getting back with the team."
Because of the timing, the inevitable assumption is that Bird was worn town from travel. She's not buying that argument, pointing out that she's an experienced traveler who has never dealt with such side effects before.
"I don't know that it has anything to do with it," Bird said. "I'm not really blaming it on travel or anything specific. It just kind of happened suddenly."
After being away from the court for three days, Bird isn't particularly concerned about any lingering issues with her stamina from the illness.
"Usually, it takes a day," she explained. "This happens to all of us. Whether it's an injury or sickness or something you have to do and take some time off, four or five days, usually it's that second wind you're waiting for. When that kicks in, you're OK."
Besides Bird, the Storm could get more minutes from Tina Thompson on Tuesday. Thompson played just five minutes on Saturday, all in the first half, before Head Coach Brian Agler decided to play it cautious with her comeback from a sprained left knee. Thompson remains day-to-day.
"We didn't put her in the second half of our game on Saturday just from the standpoint that she'd cooled down at halftime and we'd sort of dropped behind quite a bit," said Agler. "I didn't want to put her out there and have a situation where she took a step backward. She took yesterday off and participated a little bit today."
Center Ann Wauters is also making progress and participating in practice. She's been ruled out for Tuesday, but Agler expects to have her back in action sometime during the course of the current stretch of four games in 11 days, all at KeyArena.
Another major addition to the lineup is on the way - literally. Lauren Jackson was en route to Seattle from Australia on Monday afternoon. Because of her late arrival, Jackson won't play against Minnesota, but she should make her 2012 debut at some point this week depending on how she feels after a busy week of travel took her from London to Australia to Seattle.
For a Storm team that was reduced to seven players - and just three posts, liberally counting undersized Alysha Clark in that group - during the second half of Saturday's game, the returns come at the right time.