Breanna Stewart has let her MVP title go to her head.
Or, rather, Sue Bird’s head.
In a stunning display of outright disrespect for one of the league’s most decorated players in history, Stewart raised her right elbow just as Bird was running behind her during Sunday’s Game 4 of the semifinals, sending the 11-time All-Star straight down onto the floor with a broken nose that kept her out for the rest of the game.
Sue Bird catches an elbow in the face from teammate Breanna Stewart and had to head back to the locker room pic.twitter.com/38h3zHk1Wt— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) September 2, 2018
Coincidence? Accident? Well, let’s take a look at the facts.
First, it cannot be ignored that Bird and Stewart are both products of the University of Connecticut. While Stewart was part of perhaps the most dominant team in UConn history, winning four national championships and losing just five games in that time, Bird’s shot to win the 2001 Big East Tournament — not the national title, not even an NCAA tournament game, but the Big East title — is still considered one of the best shots in one of the best games of all time. Stewart just can’t compete with that kind of history.
Second, at the time of the “incidental contact” midway through the second quarter, Stewart had 12 points. But Bird had just knocked down a three to bring her total to 7 points, and her second quarter scoring advantage over Stewart to 3-2. This had to have made Stewart angry. But was it really this righteous anger that brought her to do what she did?
Because, third, we must consider that Stewart is not just malicious, but treasonous. After the game, Mercury star Diana Taurasi — another UConn alumna and allegedly one of Bird’s closest friends — made a comment about the injury that points to something else:
Sue Bird broke her nose and Diana Taurasi is concerned in the most Diana Taurasi way pic.twitter.com/9vcVvim3mC— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 3, 2018
That’s right. Taurasi is gleeful about the devastating injury that sidelined Bird for the rest of the game, a game that Taurasi’s team would go on to win. Perhaps Taurasi and Stewart had a chat before the game to set this whole thing up. Perhaps they decided a broken nose would be least conspicuous of all, as Bird had already suffered four broken noses by that point. Perhaps “MVP” actually stands for “Most Valuable Phoenixmercuryplayer,” and Stewart was just trying to live up to her actual title.
Which segues perfectly into my fourth point: Taurasi has never lost a winner-take-all game in her WNBA career. Tuesday’s Game 5 is a winner-take-all game, a game that surely wouldn’t have happened had Bird not been so unfairly bludgeoned out of Game 4 — again, by her own teammate — so now, the door is wide open for some more Taurasi magic. Could this be Stewart’s way of making sure another UConn alumna shuts down Bird, even if it’s not Stewart herself (this time)?
One of two things will happen Tuesday night: Either Stewart will take advantage of Bird’s infirm state and put up a career performance, advancing the Storm to the Finals and solidifying her status as the team’s best player and soaking up all the glory, or the Storm will become the first team in WNBA history to blow a 2-0 semifinals series lead, which will surely expose Stewart as the traitor she is.
Friendly fire? More like friendly fired.