Breanna Stewart greeted with cheers returning to Seattle as member of Liberty

New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart signs a jersey from her Seattle Storm days before a WNBA basketball game between the Liberty and Storm, Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in Seattle.  (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Breanna Stewart played six seasons with the Seattle Storm, winning two WNBA championships and an MVP as a four-time All-Star.

On Tuesday, she made her return to Seattle for the first time in a visiting uniform after signing as a free agent in February with the New York Liberty. Storm fans were mostly happy to see her back.

Stewart signed autographs for fans before the game, including on his old Storm jersey. When her name was announced before the match, fans greeted her widely with cheers and applause, and many in attendance rose from their seats.

It was a stark contrast to another high-profile return to Seattle that saw Seahawks fans roundly boo Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson in his first game last season after joining the Denver Broncos.

Stewart joined the Storm in 2016 as UConn’s first overall pick. She made the investment as Finals MVP twice while leading the storm to championships in 2018 and 2020. This offseason, she made the switch and joined fellow All-Stars Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot. alongside outgoing rising star Sabrina Ionescu to form a super team in New York. It was an unprecedented basketball opportunity for Stewart, but one that forced her to leave some good things behind in Seattle.

Ahead of Tuesday’s game, Stewart spoke with ESPN about feelings about an offseason trip to Seattle following his decision to join New York.

“It’s a lot of bittersweet feelings,” Stewart said. “At that moment, I thought to myself, did I make the right decision? Because coming back here, I think these are all my spots, and these are my friends and this is all I know. But, you know, change is good.

The decision pays early dividends.

A Liberty team that finished 16-20 last season entered Tuesday’s game with a 2-1 start. Stewart thrived on the all-star team averaging 26 points, 10 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, all of which would be career highs if extended for the full season.

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