With the Storm and the Sounders, Seattle's Become a Peculiar Sort of Sports Town

And one that reflects the character of the city.

It's a rare thing in sport when a crowd emits a high-pitched squeal of the sort heard at a Justin Bieber concert. This happened during the Seattle Storm's thrilling victory over the Atlanta Dream in Game 1 of the 2010 WNBA Finals Sunday afternoon—during the national anthem, multiple times. Pat Wright delivered a fine rendition, to be sure, but the KeyArena crowd was simply warming up their pipes in the hope of living up to their reputation as the rowdiest fans in the league. They delivered, and so did the Storm—Sue Bird in particular. As with any Storm game, the crowd—15,000 strong—was dominated by women and children. But also in the house were several renowned male ballers: Fred Brown, Bill Russell, Lenny Wilkens, Jeff Green, Jamal Crawford, and Nate Robinson, who sat courtside and frequently joined the Storm's mascot, Doppler, to entertain the crowd. The raucous atmosphere served as a reminder that if the NBA embraced the likes of smaller, quirkier venues like KeyArena, it could have been the league's Wrigley Field. In lieu of the Sonics, the Storm and Sounders have captured the city's imagination in a more intellectually reconcilable way than the megabucks NBA ever could have. When Seattle looks in a mirror, it would prefer to get a gander at a worldly, scarf-clad Anglophile who slaps five with, and fights for the rights of, lesbians and their kids. In the Storm and Sounders, the city's found a perfect pair, earning an unlikely reputation as a formidable 21st-century sports town almost in spite of itself.

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