Sportspress Northwest offers a series of biographical sketches of athletes with significant ties to the state of Washington in the Olympic Games.
Today’s focus: Basketball.
Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm is the most recent basketball player with connections to Washington to win an Olympic gold medal (2008). Washington will be represented by three basketball players in London.
2012 BASKETBALL OLYMPIANS
AARON BAYNES / Washington State University
BORN: Dec. 9, 1986, Gisborne, New Zealand. RESIDENCE: Melbourne, Australia. SPORT: Basketball. POSITION: Center. COUNTRY: Australia. OLYMPICS (1st): 2012. HOW QUALIFIED: Selected by Australia Basketball. STATE CONNECTION: Graduated from Washington State (2009).
After attending the Australian Institute of Sport in 2005, Baynes moved to North America and enrolled at Washington State. Baynes played from 2006-09 and was a two-year starter. He was second in scoring in 2008-09 (12.7 points per game) and tied for third in 2007-08 (10.4 ppg). He became the 30th player in WSU history to exceed 1,000 points for his career, finishing with 1,064.
A native of Cairns, Australia, the 6-foot-11 center also became the 11th Cougar to surpass 600 rebounds (653). He led the Cougars with 43 blocked shots as a senior to move into a seventh-place tie with Kyle Weaver with 93 career blocks. Baynes finished his career with the eighth-best field goal percentage all time (.546) and helped lead the Cougars to two NCAA Tournaments (2007 and 2008) and an NIT appearance (2009).
CAREER: Baynes launched his professional career in the autumn of 2009 with Lietuvos Rytas, a club from Vilnius in the Lithuanian league and Euroleague. In 2010-2011 he moved to the German Eurocup team EWE Baskets Oldenburg, and in 2011 signed with the Ikaros Kallitheas Basketball Club in Greece.
SUE BIRD / Seattle Storm
BORN: Oct. 16, 1980, Syosset, NY. RESIDENCE: Syosset, NY. SPORT: Basketball. POSITION: Point guard. COUNTRY: USA. OLYMPICS (3): 2004, 2008, 2012. HOW QUALIFIED: Selected by USA Basketball. STATE CONNECTION: Member of the Seattle Storm (WNBA) since 2002.
Following a decorated career at the University of Connecticut, the Seattle Storm made Bird the No. 1 overall choice in the 2002 WNBA draft. Teaming with forward Lauren Jackson, Bird led the Storm to a pair of WNBA championships (2004, 2010). With that WNBA title and an Olympic gold medal in 2004, Bird became one of seven women to win an Olympic gold medal, a WNBA title and an NCAA Championship.
OLYMPICS: Bird is a three-time Olympian. She was part of gold medal-winning efforts in 2004 in Athens and in 2008 in Beijing. She had an Olympic-high nine points against Mali in 2008 and an Olympic-high five assists against China in 2004.
STORM: Bird is a seven-time WNBA All-Star and a five-time All-WNBA selection. During her Storm career, she has averaged 12.7 points, 5.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Named to four consecutive All-WNBA first teams from 2002-05. Bird was a starter in WNBA All-Star Game in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006.
In 2011, WNBA fans voted Bird as one of the top 15 players in WNBA history. In 2006, she was selected to the 10-member, WNBA All-Decade team. In 2003, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer named Bird its Female Sports Star of the Year.
Bird scored a career-high 33 points Aug. 9, 2002 vs. Portland, had a career-high 14 assists July 21, 2006 vs. Minnesota, and had a career-high eight rebounds in a game six times. She made seven steals May 21, 2006 vs. the Los Angeles Sparks, a career high.
CONNECTICUT: At the University of Connecticut, Bird won three Nancy Liebermann awards, the Naismith Award (2002), Wade Trophy, the Honda Award and The Associated Press Player of the Year award. She made two All-America first teams. Named the Best Female College Athlete of the Year at the 10th annual ESPY Awards July 10, 2002.
PERSONAL: Bird missed two pre-Olympics exhibition games after returning to the U.S. following the death of her stepfather, Dennis. She returned Saturday to play against Croatia in Istanbul, a 109-55 win in which she played 19 minutes and eight points and five assists. “It’s been emotional,” she told reporters, fighting back tears. “Obviously he wasn’t my father, but has been in my life for 16 years. He meant so much to my mom. These things are tough. It’s good to be back, everyone’s been so great. In a way, even though I’m not with my biological family, this is an extension. They make me laugh and I don’t have to think about anything else so it’s really nice.” Bird holds a degree in communications science from the University of Connecticut . . . Wears number 10 because she and sister Jennifer were both born in October . . .. She is interested in a career in broadcasting after her playing days . . . Enjoys music (Dave Matthews Band) . . . Has also played professionally in Russia and Turkey.
KIM BUTLER / Bellarmine Prep
BORN: Sept. 7, 1982, Tacoma. RESIDENCE: London. SPORT: Basketball. POSITION: Forward. COUNTRY: Great Britain, OLYMPICS (1): 2012. HOW QUALIFIED: Selected by British Basketball. STATE CONNECTION: Graduate of Bellarmine Prep.
A collegiate standout at Oregon State (2004-06), Butler will be part of a British team making its first Olympic appearance. Butler was a two-year starter for the Beavers after transferring from Santa Clara University following her sophomore season. As a junior in 2004-05 she was OSUs second-leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 10.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 23 minutes per game.
During the 2005-06 season, Butler earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention after finishing second in scoring (18.2 ppg) and free-throw shooting .769 (143 for 186). Butlers 576 points her senior year are the second-highest total for any OSU player of the last 16 years. Felicia Ragland had 638 points in 2001-02.
CAREER: Butler joined the British national team in the summer of 2007. She has averaged more than 10 points and five rebounds per game in her international career and was part of the team that won promotion into European Division A when she scored a career-best 28 points in a victory over Ukraine in 2008. At EuroBasket Women 2011, she poured in 15 points as Great Britain came within seconds of upsetting eventual champion and world No. 2 Russia.
PERSONAL: Kims sister Julie also played basketball at Santa Clara. Growing up, Kim competed in athletics, primarily in shot put and 400 metres. She lists former USA basketball international Tim Duncan and cyclist Lance Armstrong as her sporting idols . . . In high school, Kim was named an All-State soccer player before accepting a basketball scholarship at Santa Clara University.
LAUREN JACKSON / Seattle Storm
BORN: May 11, 1981, Albury, New South Wales, Australia. RESIDENCE: Canberra, Australia. SPORT: Basketball. POSITION: Forward. COUNTRY: Australia. OLYMPICS (4): 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012. HOW QUALIFIED: Selected by Australian Olympic Committee. STATE CONNECTION: Member of the Seattle Storm (WNBA) since 2001.
OLYMPICS: Jackson is captain of the Opals, Australia’s national team, and is a three-time silver medalist in the Olympics. She was chosen this week to carry her nation’s flag in the Opening Ceremony Friday.”I could never have imagined being honored like this,” she told rerporters in London. She skipped the first half of the WNBA season to train with the national team in order to finally get the Olympic gold away from the U.S.
STORM: The leading scorer in franchise history, Jackson is a three-time, regular-season MVP winner (2003, 2007, 2010), a WNBA Finals MVP (2010), a five-time All-Star, the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year (2007), a three-time league scoring champion (2003, 2004, 2007) and a member of the WNBA’s All-Decade Team (2006). In 2011, along with teammate Sue Bird, she was voted one of the top 15 players in league history.
Jackson has been instrumental in helping the Storm win two WNBA championships (2004, 2010). She averaged a team-high 19.6 points per game for the 2004 champions and 21.6 ppg for the 2010 champions. For her WNBA career, Jackson has averaged 19.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals.
Jackson, the youngest player in league history to score 3,000 points and 4,000 points, ranks in the top five in WNBA history in games, minutes, points, field goals, free throws, rebounds and blocks. Jackson shares the WNBA record for most points in a game, 47 vs. Washington July 24, 2007
PERSONAL: Father Gary and mother Maree both played for Australian national basketball teams . . . When at home in Australia, enjoys surfing and spending time at the beach . . . Posed nude in an Australian magazine, Black+White, that featured Olympic athletes competine in Athens in the 2004 Summer Olympics . . . Posed for the 2005 edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue . . . Jackson has also played professionally in Russia, Korea and Spain.
BASKETBALL MEDALS BY WASHINGTONIANS
GOLD: Ralph Bishop (UW), 1936 Berlin; John Stockton (Spokane), 1992 Barcelona; Stockton, 1996 Atlanta; Gary Payton (Sonics), 1996 Atlanta; Payton, 2000 Sydney; Sue Bird (Storm), 2004 Athens; Bird, 2008 Beijing. SILVER: Lauren Jackson (Storm), 2000 Sydney; Jackson, 2004 Athens; Jackson, 2008 Beijing. BRONZE: None.
The following athletes with connections to the state have qualified (or been selected) to represent the U.S. in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games July 27-Aug. 12.
|Athlete||Sport||Gms. #||Country||State Connection|
|Nathan Adrian||Swimming||2||USA||Bremerton native|
|Scott Baynes||Basketball||1||Australia||WSU grad|
|Sue Bird||Basketball||3||USA||Seattle Storm guard|
|Kim Butler||Basketball||1||G. Britain||Bellarmine Prep|
|Dave Calder||Rowing||4||Canada||University of Washington|
|Will Crothers||Rowing||1||Canada||University of Washington|
|Tyler Farrar||Cycling||1||USA||Wenatchee native|
|Amanda Furrer||Shooting||1||USA||Mead High, Spokane|
|Scott Gault||Rowing||2||USA||University of Washington|
|Rob Gibson||Rowing||1||Canada||University of Washington|
|Lauren Jackson||Basketball||4||Australia||Seattle Storm forward|
|Anthony Jacob||Rowing||1||Canada||University of Washington|
|Ebba Jungmark||Track||2||Sweden||WSU grad|
|Seth Kelsey||Fencing||3||Canada||Brush Prairie|
|Ariana Kukors||Swimming||1||USA||Auburn Mountainview|
|Meagan Kalmoe||Rowing||2||USA||University of Washington|
|Bernard Lagat||Track||4||USA||Washington State University|
|Giuseppe Lanzone||Rowing||2||USA||University of Washington|
|Amy LePeilbet||Soccer||1||USA||Spokane native|
|Adrienne Lyle||Equestrian||1||USA||University of Washington|
|Adrienne Martelli||Rowing||1||USA||University of Washington|
|Arielle Martin||Cycling||1||USA||Spanaway native|
|Conlin McCabe||Rowing||1||Canada||University of Washington|
|Tamari Miyashiro||Volleyball||1||USA||University of Washington|
|Haley Nemra||Track||2||Marshall Is.||Marys.-Pilchuck|
|Brett Newlin||Rowing||2||USA||University of Washington|
|Kara Patterson||Track||2||USA||Seattle native|
|Jennie Reed||Cycling||3||USA||Seattle native|
|Jarred Rome||Track||2||USA||Marys. -Pilchuck|
|Janine Sandell||Volleyball||1||Great Britain||University of Washington|
|Hope Solo||Soccer||2||USA||University of Washington|
|Travis Stevens||Judo||2||USA||Bellevue native|
|Courtney Thompson||Volleyball||1||USA||University of Washington|
|Aretha Franklin||Track||4||USA||University of Washington|
|Queen Underwood||Boxing||1||USA||Seattle resident|
|Eric Uptagrafft||Shooting||1||USA||Spokane resident|
|Tejay van Garderen||Cycling||1||USA||Tacoma native|
|Brad Walker||Track||2||USA||University of Washington|
|Mary Whipple||Rowing||3||USA||University of Washington|