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Seattle’s time: WNBA All-Stars relishing experience in Emerald City

After two championships and 17 years of waiting, the city of Seattle is hosting its first All-Star game; a game that has no shortage of young and proven talent.

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After 17 years of sitting on the sidelines, the Emerald City is finally getting its chance to show off its shine.

You’re reading this correctly: the city of Seattle is hosting the 2017 WNBA All-Star Game.

For the host team, the Seattle Storm, it’s a chance to show off why KeyArena is one of the most happening places in the league. Consistently known as one of the most beautiful places to visit on the West Coast, the fans are also known as some of the most loyal in the WNBA.

Ask Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx, who has faced off against the Storm many a time in her storied career. She is among many who felt that it was time Seattle got their chance to host.

“It’s exciting that the game is here, just because of the rich history that these fans have created here for the Seattle Storm,” said Moore. “Players like Sue, who has been such an iconic face to our game, to be able to celebrate a player like her and an up-and-coming player like Breanna [Stewart]for the fans to get excited about is just a great home for All-Star 2017.”

The Sue that Moore none other than the Seattle Storm’s own Sue Bird, who has been acting as a spokesman and host of sorts for the franchise and the city this last week. For the 16-year vet and two-time WNBA Champion, this is her time to boast about her adopted hometown. When asked about how much pride she has for the city, Bird wasn’t shy in giving an answer:

“A ton, a ton. The franchise has done a really good job making sure this weekend was special for all of us and I kind of piggybacked that. Giving opinions where I can, going to throw a gathering tonight for the players to make sure they can enjoy Seattle and see what it’s all about. All week I tried to make myself available if anyone needed anything.”

One player who took advantage of that was Connecticut Sun forward/center Jonquel Jones, who is starting in her first All-Star game. Jones, who in her second season has propelled the Sun to the third-best record in the league at 12-9, had nothing but positive things about the city.

“So beautiful,” said an excited Jones. “This city is definitely one of the best places that I’ve been. It has everything – water and trees mixed with the city life. It has everything. I’m enjoying Seattle a lot.”

Jones is already receiving a lot of high praise from some of the veterans in the game. One of them who expressed her excitement in teaming with her was none other than New York Liberty center Tina Charles, who is playing in her fifth All-Star game.

“I’m excited to play with Jonquel Jones,” said Charles. “I think she’s a fantastic player. With everything she’s been able to do for the Connecticut Sun organization and her being in her second year and finding her niche in this league, you don’t really see that happen that fast. She’s dominant in what she does. She has a lot of confidence, and that’s all you can ask for.

“It’s going to inspire a lot of young players when they get into the league and are thinking when they are going to turn the corner. They can look to someone like Jonquel Jones.”

For some participants, like Eastern Conference All-Star head coach Curt Miller, this weekend is more about giving the players their due. Unlike the Western Conference, who have a star-studded veteran-laden squad, the Eastern Conference is coming in relatively green. EIGHT of the team’s 11 All-Stars are first-timers, and Miller takes pride in being able to mentor them for this weekend.

When asked what the most exciting part of this weekend was, he made it all about the players.

“Seeing the true, genuine excitement from the hard work that these young players have put in,” said Miller. “They’ve reached a major milestone in becoming a WNBA All-Star. Eight of them. First-timers. As you can imagine, there’s nervousness. There’s excitement and a lot of reflection right now and looking back on how they got to this point.

“It’s really cool to be around not only these tremendous players, but the first-time All-Stars and their excitement about it.”

For players like the Atlanta Dream’s Tiffany Hayes, the All-Star game is an indictment of the work they have been putting in. Hayes, who is not only playing in her first All-Star game but is starting, was humbled by her selection:

“It feels great. Just to know that the fans had a hand in voting, along with the media and my peers, it just shows the respect I’m getting from people who see your hard work. I’m definitely appreciative.”

Make sure to check out the All-Star game for yourself. The game starts at 3:30 p.m. on ABC, with the three-point competition slated to go on during halftime.