Seattle Storm to visit White House, celebrate 2020 title

NEW YORK (AP) — The Seattle Storm are heading to the White House to celebrate their 2020 WNBA championship.

The team was formally invited by President Joe Biden to visit Monday afternoon. The Storm play at the Washington Mystics on Sunday.

“I think for a very long time, up until 2016, going to the White House was an honor. It wasn’t necessarily political. It was to meet the president of the United States. The person who holds that office acknowledging your team’s success,” said Seattle guard Sue Bird, who will be making her third trip to meet a president. “It was an incredible honor. Even when you watch a movie like ‘Forrest Gump,’ I’m dating myself a little bit, you understand in that movie what an incredible honor it was. It wasn’t political. I think that all shifted in 2016.”

With former president Donald Trump out of office, Bird said she was happy to be going back. Many WNBA players including Bird have been outspoken in their embrace of social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter, which Trump characterized as violent, radical ideology. Trump was also critical of Bird’s fiancee, U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe.

“Now that it’s back in a place where it’s considered an honor and you’re recognized by the highest office in the country is exciting, it’s fun,” Bird said. “It’s not just about meeting the president or hopefully the vice president is there. It’s about the whole experience of being in the White House. Having a day that’s about your team and celebrating what you’ve accomplished.”

In addition to her two previous White House visits, Bird has been invited three other times after winning championships — once with UConn and twice with the Storm — but couldn’t attend.

The Storm, who have won four titles, will be joined by the team’s ownership group and WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. The team last visited the White House in 2011.

No NBA or WNBA team has visited the White House since the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 — Barack Obama’s last year in office.

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More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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